SARASOTA, Fla. - Manager Buck Showalter didn’t have to wait long today before a reporter asked about Dylan Bundy’s bullpen session.
Five seconds, tops.
“Good. As advertised,” Showalter said. “I’ve seen him before. But he’s in a good place. He’s a very serious young man and he’s got a great background and he’s blessed with a lot of skills you have to have to have success in the major leagues. He had good composure. That’s another thing you want to see.”
Showalter, pitching coach Rick Adair, bullpen coach Bill Castro and director of pitching development Rick Peterson will meet with Bundy on Thursday, now that the young right-hander has gotten acclimated to his first major league camp.
“You can tell he’s polished,” Showalter said. “He’s been around good levels where he’s been exposed to all the things you can be exposed to except, obviously, this level.”
You also can tell that Bundy is a major attraction in camp.
“It’s part of the job description,” Showalter said. “It’s not like Dylan slipped in here under the radar screen or anything. It’s a story. I understand it. But for the right reasons, because he’s well thought of. But there’s a lot of bridges to cross.”
Showalter also liked what he saw from left-hander Brian Matusz.
“I thought he had a really good first day throwing here, because we really didn’t count the other that much,” Showalter said. “He’s in a good place mentally and physically. Those are two things you’d like to see to start out with. So, I’m excited to see him pitch here. Hopefully, he’ll be part of our staff.”
Showalter can’t recall managing a team where he’s had five or six candidates for opening day starter.
“I bet you we have one when we come out of here,” he said, grinning.
“I don’t dwell on it. We’ll figure it out. We have until the 16th or 17th to start slotting them in a little bit.
“Some of them are health-related, too. The last you want to do is commit to somebody that might be a health concern. It’s not really a topic of conversation with our pitchers, either, mostly because a lot of them are trying to just make the club.”
Wei-Yin Chen, who also threw in the bullpen today, is expected to make it. However, he won’t be handed a job.
“I met with him yesterday morning,” Showalter said. “You can tell both of them (Chen and Tsuyoshi Wada) seem a little more comfortable today, sitting down talking a lot. They understand some of the challenges they face, but the ball came out of (Chen’s) hand well today. That’s what I was hoping to see. That kind of verified what we were hoping to see. Keep in mind this guy is 26. He’s the same age as Tommy Hunter. He’s the same age as Jake Arrieta, basically. He’s a young guy.”
Showalter was asked again about first baseman Nick Johnson.
“I’m glad he’s here,” Showalter said. “The thing is health. He knows where the finish line is and if he’s healthy, he’s a contributor. There’s no doubt about it. Especially in some of the things we want to improve on offensively. His background is something I’ve always, I don’t want to say coveted, but always really liked from the Yankee days all around. This guy is a baseball player. He gets it. Plus defender, real pain at the plate. He takes what you give him. Just a matter of if he can stay on the field.”
Reliever Jim Johnson will throw on flat ground one more time before progressing to a half mound.