Triple-A Norfolk pitching coach Mike Griffin found a few reasons to be encouraged today by Tsuyoshi Wada's four-inning start against Lehigh Valley.
Wada allowed four runs (three earned) and three hits, with two walks and five strikeouts. He served up two home runs in the fourth and came out of the game after 78 pitches.
Wada was making his first injury rehab start.
"I know he's been throwing in a couple games at extended spring training, but this was his first outing in front of people in the stands," Griffin said. "He was OK. I didn't have a whole lot to go on before today. Just watching his sides during spring training. He missed location, which is most likely normal for right now, his first time out and in this kind of atmosphere in what we'd call a true game situation.
"He missed location. He only gave up three hits in four innings, but he left his curveball up for a solo home run and he missed with his fastball over the plate for a two-run homer. But what excited me today about him was, when he missed up or missed location, he made the adjustment on his next pitch. And that's what I'm happy about seeing from him today.
"I thought he threw some decent sliders that had some tilt down to them. His fastball, when he was down with it, had some decent two-seam movement to it. He threw a few good changeups that had movement down. He got a few swings and misses with his changeup. He wasn't real sharp, but he got some work in today in front of a crowd."
Wada underwent ligament-reconstructive surgery on his left elbow on May 11, 2012 and still hasn't pitched for the Orioles.
"The best part of today for Wada was he felt good during his outing and he felt good after," Griffin said. "That was pleasing. We'll see what happens next."
Wada is using all of his pitches and focusing on retiring hitters. He's not experimenting as if it's spring training. He's also trying to build up innings, though he reached his pitch count today and only lasted through the fourth.
"I think the most important thing for Wada right now is building up innings and arm strength and to get back into competition," Griffin said.
Meanwhile, Griffin doesn't know when Jake Arrieta will make his next start for Norfolk.
Arrieta threw in the bullpen Tuesday and his right shoulder felt better once he got loose. The Orioles may have a better idea of his schedule when he shows up at Harbor Park on Friday.
Arrieta was scratched from Sunday's start because of a strained shoulder. He's 2-1 with a 2.75 ERA in three starts since the Orioles optioned him, with 16 hits allowed, three walks and 17 strikeouts in 19 2/3 innings.