Yet another player has been struck by the Tommy John epidemic. But, it is not a pitcher, it is a position player, a first for the season. For the 20th time in this calendar year, the epidemic has affected a major league player.
Orioles catcher Matt Wieters is the victim, the team announced. He will undergo the procedure, performed by Dr. James Andrews, on Tuesday and will miss roughly nine months. The recovery time is faster because he isn't a pitcher, so Wieters should be ready to go for the Orioles in 2015.
The 28-year-old has been out since May 10 with discomfort in his elbow, and was thought to just build up arm strength in order to return to action. Many figured he would be back in July. He visited Andrews over the weekend after making no progress in his throwing program and now is forced to miss the rest of the season with the Tommy John procedure.
The Orioles will have to go with Caleb Joseph or recently acquired Nick Hundley behind the plate in Wieters' absence. Steve Clevinger is also a possibility, but he's is currently in Triple-A. Joseph has a .409 OPS and a 18 wRC+ at the plate, but is a very good defender. Hundley, on the other hand, has a .527 OPS and a 42 wRC+, but doesn't provide as good defense as Joseph.
Wieters has been hitting .308/.339/.500 with five home runs and 13 RBI in 112 plate appearances. The Orioles will definitely miss their backstop, as he has already provided a 0.8 fWAR in 26 games and has a 15.1 fWAR over his career. This is definitely a tough hole to fill for the Orioles.