Orioles' catcher Matt Wieters will undergo Tommy John surgery on Tuesday afternoon and miss the remainder of the season, according to a team announcement. The team hopes that he will be able to hit by Opening Day next season and catch by May, according to Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com.
Wieters, who last saw game action on May 10 against the Astros, has been sidelined for over a month with a sore elbow. He originally was determined to not be a candidate for Tommy John surgery and tried to rehab the elbow in hopes of returning this season, but his throwing program did not go well and he visited Dr. James Andrews on Monday to decide on the next step. Andrew recommended Tommy John surgery for the backstop, meaning that he will become the 48th known player (according to Jeff Passan of Yahoo! Sports) to have the surgery this season.
Wieters, who was hitting .308 with 5 HR and 18 RBI at the time of the initial injury, was supposed to be a key part of the Orioles' lineup this season in the difficult AL East. Instead, they will rely on Caleb Joseph and the newly-acquired Nick Hundley in addition to Steve Clevenger, who is currently stashed at Triple-A Norfolk. Joseph (.130 average in 21 games), Hundley (.147 average in 10 games with Baltimore) are not getting the job done offensively, so it won't come as a surprise if the Orioles pursue catching help at the trade deadline if they feel like they are in the playoff hunt.
It will be interesting to see how this injury impacts Wieters' long-term value, as he is slated to become a free agent after the 2015 season. The O's were expected to try to sign him to an extension this offseason, but are likely to hold off on those efforts until they see him back to full strength next spring. The two-time All-Star will hit the open market at 29 years old next fall, and will be a hot commodity for teams looking for catching.