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Nats catcher Wieters makes rehab start at Bowie

July 8, 2018

Matt Wieters is no stranger to Prince George’s Stadium in Bowie, as he hit an impressive .365 for the Double-A Baysox in 2008 in the Orioles farm system.

Now a Nationals catcher, Wieters was back in Bowie on Saturday night in a minor league rehab game with the Harrisburg (Pa.) Senators of the Eastern League.

The last time Wieters played at Bowie was in three games on a minor league rehab assignment with the Orioles in 2015. Tonight he is in the visiting clubhouse behind the left field foul pole with Harrisburg, the Double-A affiliate of the Nationals.

“I didn’t even know they had a parking lot,” Wieters said of the visiting clubhouse at Prince George’s Stadium. That is because he always drove to the home clubhouse back of the right field foul pole when he played for Bowie.

Wieters, 32, batted third and caught for the Senators in the Saturday night game at Bowie. He got a nice round of applause when he came to the plate in the top of the first inning before he struck out looking.

He ended up with one hit in four at-bats and drove in a run as Bowie won 3-2 with a run in the last of the 10th inning.

Wieters went on the disabled list May 11 with a left hamstring strain. He is hitting .231 with three homers in 65 at-bats with the Nationals. Pedro Severino has been the main catcher in his absence and he hit a homer Saturday at home against the Marlins.

Washington manager Dave Martinez said earlier this week Wieters could join the Nationals this month after a rehab stint.

Harrisburg catcher Jake Lowery is a former Cleveland prospect who spent time with Wieters in spring training. Wieters signed with the Nationals prior to the 2016 season, while Lowery also joined Washington prior to that season.

“He’s a pro’s pro. It will be fun to watch him play,” said Lowery, who grew up in the Richmond area and played at James Madison University. Lowery came on to catch when Wieters left the game.

LeCroy will be the bench coach for the U.S. team in the Futures Game that will be played July 15 at 4 p.m. at Nationals Park. LeCroy is a former bullpen coach for the Nationals who was a catcher in the majors for Minnesota and Washington, in 2006.

“I was really excited about the opportunity,” said LeCroy, sitting in the visiting clubhouse before Saturday’s game.

Harrisburg shortstop Carter Kieboom will play on the U.S. team and Luis Garcia, a Nationals prospect with Single-A Potomac, will be on the world team. Kieboom is hitting .351 in 18 games for the Senators since he was promoted from Potomac.

The Georgia native was hitting in the No. 2 spot in the order for Harrisburg on Saturday. His brother, Spencer, is the backup catcher for the Nationals. Carter is the youngest player on the Harrisburg roster by nearly three years.

Earlier this season Nationals left fielder Juan Soto, 19, played for LeCroy at Harrisburg before he was promoted to Washington on May 20. Soto was hitting .305 with eight homers for the Nationals going into Saturday’s home game with the Marlins as ace pitcher Max Scherzer faced Miami.

“Wow. To see him do what he is doing, it just shows how special this kid is,” LeCroy said of Soto. “We picked up a gem when he signed him” out of the Dominican Republic.