The Orioles are in dual mode when it comes to their pitching needs. They remain in the market for another arm, but they’re also trying to ready their own minor leaguers for possible duty later in the summer.
They had a minor league offer on the table for veteran Kyle Lohse before he signed yesterday with the Rangers, a deal that reportedly included a June 1 opt-out.
They recently had special assignment scout Ron Schueler, who’s based in Arizona, watch Tim Lincecum’s showcase. The Orioles are interested but don’t expect to get him.
“I’d be surprised if Lincecum signed on the East Coast,” said executive vice president Dan Duquette. “I would be surprised.”
The Orioles signed veteran left-hander Wandy Rodriguez, 37, to a minor league deal on April 29 and sent him to extended spring training in Sarasota. He threw two innings Tuesday in a simulated game and will throw three more innings today.
“He threw good in extended,” Duquette said. “Showed a good curve and got a good report from Scotty McGregor. He’s doing good, he’s doing his work. He looked sharp.”
Rodriguez’s contract includes an opt-out clause next month and he could bolt if the Orioles don’t have a spot for him.
“We have some more time,” Duquette said.
Duquette still wants to upgrade the pitching depth, which explains the club’s presence at Lincecum’s workout.
“We were looking at right-handed pitching, but we ended up signing Rodriguez because we thought he was the best fit for our club,” Duquette said.
“I think you have to be active in the pitching market. We’re always looking around. Some of our young pitchers are doing a good job for the big league club. We’re trying to get some other young pitchers the innings they need to come up here and contribute, so we’re continuing to work on the pitching development throughout the organization.”
Tyler Wilson and Mike Wright were supposed to be in Triple-A Norfolk’s rotation, but they’re starting for the Orioles with Yovani Gallardo on the disabled list and Miguel Gonzalez with the White Sox after his release in spring training.
“It’s nice to see the contribution that Wilson has made, and Wright’s pitched well,” Duquette said. “(Dylan) Bundy’s contributed. So we’ll see if we can get a couple more guys ready from our minor leagues to come up here and make a contribution.
“It’s good that we have young guys who are contributing, but we’re going to need some more before the year is out to come and help our team from the minor leagues, so hopefully those guys will be ready when they get the opportunity. We’ve got a couple guys in Triple-A and there are a couple guys in Double-A that we’re keeping an eye on.”
Bowie left-hander Chris Lee may be the most appealing in-house option. He’s 5-0 with a 2.41 ERA and 0.96 WHIP in six outings over 37 1/3 innings. He’s struck out only 13 batters, but as Wilson has demonstrated, there’s nothing wrong with pitching to contact if the guys behind you are making the plays.
Lee’s allowed 28 hits and walked eight batters. Eastern League opponents are batting .204 against him.
Any list of top under-the-radar acquisitions by Duquette must include Lee, 23, who was acquired from the Astros in May 2015 for “other considerations” and later added to the 40-man roster. Those considerations were two international signing bonus slots valued around $655,000.
Lee’s velocity jumped into the mid-90s and he could make the leap from Double-A, since the Orioles have been known to call up prospects from the Eastern League. Manny Machado and Mychael Givens are nightly reminders.
Control has been an issue for Bridwell, 24, who’s walked 20 batters and struck out 15 in 31 innings, but the Orioles love his arm. He’s allowed two earned runs or fewer in each of his last five starts.
Hess, 22, has walked seven batters in 32 2/3 innings. He’s continuing to ride the wave of momentum from the second half of last season, when he went 10-1 with a 1.58 ERA in his last 16 starts - including 12 with Single-A Frederick.
Hess’ fastball touched 94 mph, but the biggest key was improvement in his secondary pitches - his changeup, slider and curveball.
“I wouldn’t be afraid to take a look at some of those guys in Double-A,” Duquette said.
Shameless plug alert: I’m on “Wall to Wall Baseball” from 10-11:30 a.m. on MASN.