Left-hander Tsuyoshi Wada worked 5 1/3 innings last night in his fifth injury-rehab start at Triple-A Norfolk, allowing three runs and six hits, walking one and striking out six. He threw 95 pitches, 70 for strikes.
For the first time since signing his two-year, $8.15 million deal with the Orioles in December 2011, Wada was credited with a win. There’s another W besides the first letter in his last name.
In 23 innings with the Tides, Wada has surrendered 18 runs (15 earned) and 27 hits, walked 11 and struck out 18. He was 0-3 with a 6.11 ERA before last night, and he lost his only start in 2012 before undergoing ligament-reconstructive surgery on his left elbow.
Wada was pushed back a day to provide extra rest, but it also could deny him from making a seventh start before his rehab assignment ends on June 15.
There’s a sense in the organization that Wada is willing to remain in the minors once his assignment has reached its conclusion. He has to give his consent to be optioned. It’s hard to imagine him putting up much of a fight while he works to reduce his pitch count and improve his ball/strike ratio.
He did throw more strikes last night, but he still hasn’t completed six innings in any start.
A scout from outside the organization saw one of Wada’s early outings for the Tides and compared him more to Bruce Chen than Wei-Yin Chen.
“He’s a finesse left-hander,” the scout said. “The guy really has four pitches - fastball, curve, slider and changeup. He really mixes his stuff and moves the ball around the zone. He locates fairly well. He knows how to pitch. He’s got pretty good command, a pretty good feel for pitching. But the thing is, his stuff, he doesn’t have anything plus. And if anything, his best stuff, his slider and change, were very fringy.
“He’s got a funky short-arm, no-windup delivery and kind of pushes the ball. It’s not really pretty watching him. He’s 84-88 mph, pitched at 85-86. His curveball was below average. The best thing he did was, his slider versus lefties was fairly effective. His change was 77-80. Nothing to really get excited about.”
This report is similar to what the scout’s organization saw while scouting Wada in Japan.
“We had him as a finesse, fringy fifth starter guy, more a long relief, spot starter type,” he said. “I don’t think what I was seeing (at Norfolk) was a consequence of the Tommy John surgery.
“He does compete. He knows how to pitch. He locates fairly well. He was worth the gamble. When he came in, (Miguel) Gonzalez wasn’t there, (Wei-Yin) Chen wasn’t established, (Jason) Hammel wasn’t there yet. So he was worth the gamble. And it wasn’t a lot of money. They didn’t risk much, in the grand scheme of things. It’s not like giving someone four years and $55 million.
“One thing I’ll say is I don’t think there’s any pressure on them in terms of having to bring him up. I think they’ll do what they want to do and not be pressured. There’s not that much money at stake there, and they’re trying to win. That takes priority over everything. He could surface and they could say, ‘Let’s give him a couple starts and maybe catch lightning in a bottle.’
“He’s not that bad. He’s OK. Just no real out pitch, no plus pitch. He’s going to have a lot of trouble getting big league hitters out with that stuff. He could fool them a little, but once they see there’s not enough fastball, they’ll be able to hit his other stuff easier. They won’t respect the fastball.”
Of course, this is one scout’s opinion. Could be shared by others. Could be reports out there that are more favorable. And Wada could dial it up at Norfolk.
The Orioles would like for Wada to give himself more time to do it.
I’ve got a few leftovers from my recent interview with Dean Albany, who signed Josh Hader after scouting the left-hander at Old Mill High School in Millersville. The Orioles selected Hader in the 19th round of the 2012 First-Year Player Draft, and he’s emerging as one of their top pitching prospects.
Albany asked manager Buck Showalter to watch Hader at last year’s Brooks Robinson All-Star Game at Camden Yards. Showalter returned to the dugout for last weekend’s game until it was halted by rain after three innings.
“It really means a lot to the kids,” Albany said. “Buck watched the game the other day, and you should see the kids light up with him being there.”
Hader has put on 10-15 pounds since the Orioles drafted him.
“Our people do a great job in spring training feeding the young players,” Albany said. “I eat there and it’s different. It’s good, solid food. The organization does a great job providing a balanced diet and getting the players in the weight room. I see Josh drinking protein shakes now.”
Hader, 19, was named to the South Atlantic League All-Star team this week.
“It’s a great feeling,” he said. “It’s definitely an honor to be named to that at such a young age. I feel like I’ve accomplished a lot so far in year playing pro ball.”
OK, that’s all from me until I check into my hotel in St. Petersburg. It would be nice if my Southwest flight lifted off at its scheduled 8:30 a.m. departure time, but I’m not holding my breath.