I’ve been asked whether Mike Wright gets another start with the Orioles.
I’m not sure whether he gets another day in the majors.
As I explained yesterday, the Orioles can go in many directions due to the uncertain status of Chris Tillman (back) and Bud Norris (bronchitis) and the presence of Tyler Wilson on the taxi squad.
There must be a temptation to place Norris on the disabled list, backdated to May 11, while he slowly recovers. He was still coughing yesterday and it’s obvious by looking at him that he’s under the weather.
Having another off day today allows the Orioles to regroup and map out a plan for the rest of the week. Miguel Gonzalez is slated to pitch Tuesday night against the Mariners and Wei-Yin Chen is the favorite to start the following night. The rest is a mystery.
* Before Wright earned his first major league win yesterday, he made a favorable impression on the Orioles in spring training.
“I was really impressed,” said closer Zach Britton. “I knew he had good stuff and he had a really good spring. I like the way he attacked hitters. Not really scared of anything.”
Britton tried to hold down expectations yesterday before Wright took the mound and shut out the Angels over 7 1/3 innings.
“Today is tough,” Britton said in the morning. “I don’t feel like you take too much out of your debut. I know for me I was so nervous. It’s about getting the experience today. I hope no one puts the pressure on him that he needs to be more than he is.”
Wright was plenty good and handled the pressure like a seasoned veteran.
“He’s a big guy for our future,” Britton said. “Him and guys like Tyler Wilson who are going to come up. Dylan Bundy and Hunter Harvey. You want to see these guys get their feet wet a little bit. That way they have the experience and they can come and help you out later in the year.”
There are people in the organization who believe Wright could transition to a relief role if there’s no room in the rotation.
“Just looking at his stuff in spring training, I thought, ‘Hey, this guy could be a really good bullpen piece for us right now,” Britton said. “He’s going to get a start here, but I still think he could be a weapon for us out of the bullpen.”
* Catcher Caleb Joseph offered sound advice to Wright before the rookie faced the Angels.
“I told him, ‘Hey, soak the moment in. It only happens one time and you’ve earned it, you deserved it. And remember the little things. Remember what it’s like to warm up, remember that first pitch, remember the things that people ask you about in the offseason.’
“Then I told him, ‘These are big league hitters, but they’re hitters. They’ll get themselves out. Good pitches beat them every time, so go out there and play your game and you’ll be fine.’ And he did that.”
* One day after allowing three runs in the ninth inning, Britton stranded two runners and notched his eighth save. One runner reached on an infield hit, as Britton had the Angels beating the ball into the ground.
Britton hadn’t made an appearance in five days when he took the mound Saturday night. The layoff can have a negative impact on a sinkerball pitcher.
“If anything, I was just a little strong and that’s kind of been an issue with me,” he said. “The more rest I get, the harder it is, especially right away. They were swinging the bats early, too. All the balls they hit well were balls that were up. It’s just a matter of really making a conscious effort to throw the ball down.
“It’s a frustrating outing because you know that you’re getting your work in, but at the same time I don’t want to give up hits and I don’t want to give up runs. I want to keep the game close for our offense. It was a little frustrating that I couldn’t get the ball down right away.
“Once we get on a roll, the opportunities will be there. Last year, I felt like I was in the game a lot. I haven’t had that yet this year. Sometimes that helps, but if anything, I think you learn that you’ve got to stay focused. I know when I’m not getting a lot of chances, there are things I’ve got to focus on when I go out there. I can’t just go out there and go through the motions. I’ve got to make a conscious effort to get the ball down. That’s big.”
* The Orioles rotation has turned in four consecutive quality starts, posting a 1.24 ERA, and six quality starts in the last eight games. The unit’s ERA this season is down to 4.24, 20th in the majors.
* Executive vice president Dan Duquette, appearing on 105.7 The Fan yesterday, told Steve Melewski that selecting Chris Parmelee’s contract from Triple-A Norfolk is “a distinct possibility.” He also expressed some concerns about the club’s corner outfielders.
Parmelee went 0-for-4 yesterday, but he’s batting .338/.422/.482 with 11 doubles, three home runs and 22 RBIs in 37 games. The question is whether he’s a 4A player whose production won’t carry over to the Orioles.
Is it time to find out? And if so, whose spot would he take on the roster?
Parmelee is a career .249/.317/ .392 hitter in 273 games with the Twins. He was solid at first base in exhibition games, earning praise from Showalter.
* Maybe it means nothing, but Norfolk outfielder Julio Borbon is batting .304 with nine stolen bases in 24 games. Showalter raves about his defense. Don’t forget about him.
* Easily lost in Ubaldo Jimenez’s turnaround this season is how much he’s improved at holding runners, a necessity if you’re going to pitch for the Orioles.
“We kind of miss what Ubaldo has done with runners,” Showalter said. “It used to be a real challenge for him. The thought that Mike Trout would get thrown out with Ubaldo on the mound is pretty impressive. That wouldn’t have happened. I don’t care if it’s a pitchout or not a pitchout, usually that’s a stolen base.
“He’s done a really good job with baserunners this year. So don’t tell me it can’t be done.”
Showalter credits Ramon Martinez, special assignment pitching instructor, for working with Jimenez. He also wonders why pitchers at the lower levels are taught to throw changeups to “keep players from advancing 90 feet,” but there’s no urgency in improving their times to home plate.
“It’s never too early,” Showalter said. “That delivery you have that’s 1.7 to the plate ain’t gonna work up here. You can’t go 1.6, 1.7 to the plate up here. It’s a track meet.”
* The Orioles wanted Norfolk catcher Steve Clevenger to continue concentrating on his work behind the plate and the reports on him are encouraging, according to manager Ron Johnson.
“Clevenger’s doing well down there. He’s catching real well,” Showalter said. “Really like what R.J.’s been saying about him.”
* The Orioles signed shortstop Paul Janish to a minor league contract because of his plus defense, and he hasn’t disappointed. It just took a little while for Janish to get back to form after undergoing surgery in February to remove bone chips from his right elbow.
“Tyler Wilson says Janish can really catch it,” Showalter said. “He’s fun to watch play shortstop. We caught him a little bit in spring when he wasn’t 100 percent. He was just getting back from some of that elbow stuff, legs hadn’t gotten under him yet.”
* What’s going on with Double-A Bowie left-hander Tim Berry? He’s 0-3 with a 7.43 ERA and 1.75 WHIP in 40 innings.
* It’s amazing how things change. Jimmy Paredes showed up at spring training as an extreme long shot to make the club, and now the Orioles are discussing how he could work out as an outfielder in the instructional league or winter ball.
The Orioles would like to pry Paredes out of the designated hitter slot in the lineup, but they’re not comfortable with him in the infield - and second base is the only option at this point.
* Everth Cabrera had two hits yesterday for Norfolk while batting leadoff and playing shortstop. He’s now out of options, so what happens to him once he’s ready to come off the disabled list?
Rey Navarro could be optioned again, but Ryan Flaherty needs a spot.
The Orioles signed Cabrera for $2.4 million and he still gets paid if he clears waivers and refuses an outright assignment. It’s all about service time. Sort of like the Ryan Webb saga.