Let’s hear from manager Buck Showalter on his decision start Nick Johnson at first base and Ronny Paulino as the designated hitter, Tsuyoshi Wada’s next starts and eventual role with the Orioles, Jason Hammel’s upcoming start and the harsh reception for Kevin Gregg during yesterday’s introductions.
Showalter is using both catchers tonight, which is risky if Matt Wieters gets hurt.
“We’ve got another one, but it’s a secret. Maybe to him, too,” Showalter said, chuckling.
“No, I want to get everybody in the lineup. The first two, three, four days I don’t want them to lose that tempo and feel they had coming out of spring. We’ll get (Endy) Chavez in there either tomorrow or the next day, try to work Ryan (Flaherty) in there, also. I just think it’s important that everybody gets their feet wet in the environment.
“Ronny handles left-handed pitching pretty well. We’re going to need everything we can throw at (Francisco) Liriano. He’s a pretty good left-handed pitcher. Nick Johnson is actually a lot better against left-handed pitching than right-handed. One challenge that Liriano had a little bit last year was command, and we’re hoping Nick brings that into play some.”
As I told you earlier, Wada will pitch in extended spring training games Monday and April 14, and start for one of the affiliates April 19.
“He had between 13 and 15 innings, depending on how you look at it with the (simulated) games coming out of camp, so this should get him back on equal ground with where some of the other guys have been stretched out,” Showalter said. “He threw 35 to 40 pitches today in side work. I talked to Chris Correnti, who is kind of handling it down there along with Rick Peterson. He said things went real well. Wada said it is probably the best he felt.”
Wada could be activated April 24, 12 days after he’s eligible.
“He could, but I’m not going to get committed to it,” Showalter said. “He could come before that. See what our needs are.”
Starter or reliever?
“We’ll see,” Showalter said. “He’s going to have the ability to do both by then, so that’s good for us.”
Does it depend on how he’s throwing or how the other starters are throwing?
“Both,” Showalter said.
Hammel will make his Orioles debut Sunday.
“There’s some unknown,” Showalter said. “You watch a bunch of tape and talk to our scouts and a bunch of people ... he’s got a good hand. He can do some things with the ball. He’s fit in real well from a team standpoint. Doesn’t take himself too seriously. But he’s at that stage, starting to understand what it takes to be successful, hopefully. And I thought his command was pretty good down there. He showed some different ways to get you out, because you are always going, ‘OK, what’s a guy going to do to get a right-handed hitter? What’s he going to do to put a left-handed hitter away?’
“We saw some weapons down there that he should be able to use if he can get to those counts and execute them. Like I said before, spring training is one thing. And look at some the track record of his spring trainings. This year was pretty good.”
Gregg was the only Oriole booed during the opening day introductions.
“You never like to see anybody have that, but Kevin is an experienced guy,” Showalter said. “If it was a young guy, you’d feel a little more strongly about it. Our fans, like a lot of places, are waiting to embrace you and to be real positive. And it’s up to us to do the things that make them want to embrace us. We control that. And Kevin knows that.”
NOTE: Chris Tillman allowed four runs and seven hits in 4 1/3 innings today for Triple-A Norfolk in Game 1 of a doubleheader. Dontrelle Willis got the last two outs in the fifth, but he allowed two runs and two hits, walked a batter and committed a balk.