Former Baltimore Orioles catcher Matt Wieters received a standing ovation in his first return to Oriole Park at Camden Yards since signing with the Washington Nationals.
The Baltimore Orioles selected Wieters with the fifth overall pick in the 2007 MLB June Amateur Draft. Wieters came into the league with high expectations after hitting .358 with 10 home runs and 59 RBIs in three seasons with Georgia Tech.
The South Carolina native met and even exceeded expectations when making his MLB debut on May 29, 2009, and made his All-Star Game debut in 2011 in a season where he smashed 22 home runs with 68 RBIs. Along with his first All-Star selection, Wieters earned MLB American League Gold Glove Award.
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Wieters continued to enhance his play the following year as he started to mold into a true leader and role model in the Orioles clubhouse. Wieters earned his second straight All-Star selection and Gold Glove award in 2012.
However, Wieters suffered a major setback in 2014 when he underwent Tommy John surgery and just never seemed to get back to the player the Orioles hoped. One-year contracts kept coming Wieters way and it seemed like a breakup was inevitable after the Orioles granted free agency to Wieters.
Ultimately, after eight hard-fought years in an Orioles uniform and four All-Star selections, Wieters time with the Orioles ended. After being a free agent for the entire 2016 offseason, Wieters and the Nationals came to an agreement on a two-year deal worth $21 million.
Fast forward to May 8, 2017, and Wieters is catching in a Nationals uniform at the place he used to call home for eight years. The Orioles organization and fans showed their appreciation for Wieters in his return with a video tribute and standing ovation in his first at-bat.
Here’s a video of Wieters in his first at-bat at Camden Yards as a visitor via Nationals’ Twitter:
Wieters was swarmed by reporters before the opening game of the Battle of the Beltways series between the Orioles vs. Nationals.
Lastly, here’s footage of Wieters talking with reporters ahead of Monday night’s game:
MASNsports.com’s Roch Kubatko caught up with Wieters and asked him several intriguing questions including asking Wieters if he still keeps up with his former team. Wieters responded by saying:
"Yeah, on MASN you can watch both. You can catch up on things there. On top of that, I’ll follow all the guys and, if nothing else, just check the box score. It takes two seconds to see whether they win or lose and who did well. I’ll follow these guys and there’s no love lost because I’m not there this year. I still love all those guys in the clubhouse. l hope they do well. I just hope we do a little better this week."
As a National, returning to OPACY will be a yearly tradition for Wieters as the Orioles and Nationals play each other every year as the rivalry continues to evolve.