SARASOTA, Fla. - Manager Buck Showalter went a lot easier on Tsuyoshi Wada than the Japanese left-hander following today’s 5-0 loss to the Twins.
“I thought he pitched good last inning,” Showalter said. “He had trouble getting the ball where he wanted to. Away from his arm slot. But he made some adjustments. I like what I saw with the command, as far as the ball down. You can see why he had success and will again. You can tell his command is going to be good. He was barely missing.
“He had some anxiety the first inning. He was telling Rick (Adair). But he’s going to be fine. I like him. I like what I see.”
Was the anxiety caused by Wada trying to make the team?
“It’s not so much trying to make the team as trying to get physically where he needs to get,” Showalter said. “I feel confident that ability-wise and the things he’s going to be able to do for us is there. It’s just a matter of him getting there.”
Wada will pitch Saturday or Sunday, “and I expect him to be even better,” Showalter said.
We don’t know where Wada will pitch. Jake Arrieta is scheduled to start Saturday and Tommy Hunter is scheduled to start Sunday.
The Orioles are trying to give Wada two more outings and get him up to six innings in the last one.
Wada said his health is good. Nothing wrong with the elbow. And he isn’t blaming today’s results on how he was brought along slowly because of it.
“Yeah, physically I am fine,” he said through his interpreter. “Today’s pitching is not because of that. I don’t want it to be because of that.”
Chris Tillman took a step backward today, though his final line doesn’t look too bad - one run, three hits, one walk, no strikeouts in three innings.
“A little frustrating for him and for us a little bit, coming off a real impressive outing,” Showalter said. “At the level that we’re getting ready to perform at, he’s got to be a little more consistent than that. The makeup part of it, all the other things, just inconsistent with a lot of parts of what he’s capable of and what he needs to bring.
“He’s had some good innings here and today showing it at the end, but if you look at the actual body of work and what he gave up...if he had started that game, he would have been out of it in the fourth or fifth inning because of his pitch count.”
Showalter won’t confirm which pitchers remain in contention for the last rotation spot, but if you read between the lines, it appears that Wada, Brian Matusz and Alfredo Simon are the finalists unless the Orioles make a trade.
Speaking of a possible trade - and without addressing a specific position - Showalter said, “I know talking to Dan (Duquette), he’s got a lot of balls in the air, things that are still going on this time of year like they always do that could change the landscape a little bit.”
Mark Reynolds had an ice pack wrapped on his left knee after slamming into the wall while chasing a foul ball in the sixth inning. He joked that he was simply trying to get out of the Dunedin trip Wednesday and that he wanted some “camera time.”
Reynolds isn’t on the travel roster - it’s going to be a “prospects game,” with the lineup dominated by minor leaguers - and today’s game wasn’t televised back home.
“Oh darn,” he said.
Well, it sounded like “darn.”
Reynolds greeted reporters at this locker by saying his knee was swollen, he received a cortisone shot and he’d be out three days. He was joking again.
“I’m fine,” he said. “It was like getting hit by a pitch or something. It felt like a Charley horse. It wasn’t anything that’s a big deal. I needed a breather.”
Reynolds stayed in the game after the mishap and made a diving stop of Denard Span’s sharp grounder up the line and tagged the bag for the force. He almost completed the double play with a strong throw to first.
Pat Neshek had another scoreless outing today after Pedro Strop retired the side in order in the eighth.
Matt Lindstrom felt some cramping in the back of his leg during the pre-game stretch today, but Showalter said the reliever was bouncing around his office 45 minutes later.
Minor league outfielder Trent Mummey was supposed to play today, but he had “some physical problems this morning,” according to Showalter.
The Orioles will announce the newest inductees into their Hall of Fame at 8:30 a.m. Wednesday. I’m sworn to secrecy.