Rookies are given two pieces of advice upon arrival in the Big Leagues. Do your job, and shut up.
Throughout history those two simple instructions have kept many rookies from being 'put in their place' by clubhouse veterans.
Orioles 2007 first round draft pick Matt Wieters understands the unwritten rules of first-year players, but following them is easier said than done. Even though Wieters technically isn't a rookie yet, he's expected to make his Big League debut at some point this season. When he does arrive, part of his job as a catcher will be vocalizing his opinions.
So how can he do his job and shut up? He can't.
Wieters says it doesn't matter if he's a veteran or a rookie. He's a catcher, and that means he has to be a leader on the field. Speaking up is part of the gig, and that can be a bit uncomfortable when dealing with veteran pitchers.
If an outspoken hurler like Jamie Walker shakes off one of Wieter's signs, the rookie will be left with a tough decision: stick to what he believes will get the batter out and signal the pitch again, make a visit to the mound to discuss the matter, or yield to the more experienced veteran. All of which, if chosen, send different messages about what type of catcher he's going to be. It's a tough line to walk.
Luckily Wieters, 22, is extremely mature and confident for his age. The experience he's gained dealing with Big League pitchers in spring training has only made him more comfortable behind the plate.
Wieters told me he loves calling games, something most catchers don't do in college or the Minor Leagues. It shows he's a young catcher that isn't afraid to take charge and that's a good thing.
Taking on such a big responsibility is a big deal to Wieters and he says he's stepped up his daily preparation before games. Thanks to veteran catchers like Greg Zaun and Chad Moeller, Wieters has learned the value of watching film on hitters---a lot of it.
Wieters says the state of the art video system the Orioles have in the clubhouse gives him access to hundreds of at bats of different hitters around the league. He's made it a point to begin studying whenever he can get time in the video room.
Research will give Wieters the knowledge he needs to call Big League games with confidence. The fact that he's taken it upon himself to do the leg work shows how serious he is about finding success at the next level.
Something tells me success will come easily for Wieters. He truly is the real deal. It's just a matter of time before we all see the start to what is sure to be an exciting career.