SARASOTA, Fla. - Making his fifth spring appearance, Orioles right-hander Mike Wright Jr. had a pretty good outing working. That was until the bottom of the Toronto Blue Jays order got to him in the top of the fifth inning today at Ed Smith Stadium.
Wright took the mound in a 1-1 game that inning, but two singles, a balk and No. 9 hitter Roemon Fields’ two-run triple with one out made it 3-1. Fields went 2-for-2 against him and scored twice. A fielder’s choice grounder plated a fourth run. A single and popout followed and Wright was lifted after a 4 2/3-inning outing.
He allowed nine hits and the four runs with one walk and two strikeouts over 71 pitches, with 46 for strikes. His spring ERA is 4.91.
“I may have been a little fatigued in the last inning,” Wright said. “I felt good and felt strong, but pitches maybe weren’t quite as sharp. The swings I was getting weren’t the same I was getting in the first few innings, but leading up to that point, I felt pretty good.
“I didn’t feel extremely tired, but obviously, like I said, my pitches didn’t look the same. The swings didn’t look the same, so something was a little different. But I felt good up to that point and it was actually good to stay out there and try to fight and not just come out when things started hitting the wall.”
Wright had gone two innings in each of his first two games and three innings each of his next two. Today was his longest outing. But the last inning was not a good one or one he could complete. It could hurt his chances to earn the No. 5 starter’s job.
“It doesn’t help. That is for sure,” he said. “But, like I said, leading up to that point, I think I was in a good spot. So, you know, hopefully what I did those first four innings helps my case going forward.”
In five spring games, Wright has worked 14 2/3 innings, allowing 16 hits and eight runs.
“Pretty good (overall) so far. Obviously, if I could have stopped after those first four innings, we’d be having a lot different conversation here,” he said. “But the fact of the matter, I’m going to be going five or six innings during the season. It’s something to work on. Like some people have the luxury to work on stuff. I do have to get those results in and hopefully next time is a little bit better.”
Wright feels he’s a better pitcher than he was a year or two previously, with more experience and some tweaks to his game. He’s using a cutter in some fastball counts to get more movement.
So how is he better?
“It is definitely a different mindset, a different approach,” he said. “It’s not, ‘Oh crap these are major league hitters.’ Just kind of the mindset of attacking hitters and using different pitches. You know not being afraid to hit or walk guys or throw that 3-1 cutter. Just pitching, honestly. Awesome to grow up and learn every year. I think I am just putting together three seasons in the big leagues.”