Showalter on starters in current roles, Wright on outing (O’s walk off 7-6)


Score: Orioles 7, Pirates 6

Recap: Mike Wright allowed three runs (two earned) and six hits in 2 2/3 innings, with a few flares and ground balls conspiring to spoil his day. ... Rule 5 pick Anthony Santander hit his first spring home run, a two-run shot in the sixth to give the Orioles a 5-4 lead. ... Hyun Soo Kim and Mark Trumbo had RBI singles in the first and Johnny Giavotella had an RBI single in the sixth. ... Donnie Hart retired the side in order with two strikeouts in the sixth. ... Darren O’Day gave up a run in the fifth on a triple and ground ball and Gabriel Ynoa surrendered an unearned run in the seventh after Trey Mancini’s error. ... Oliver Drake gave up a two-out RBI double to Alen Hanson in the ninth. Hanson advanced to third on the throw to the plate. ... David Washington hit a walk-off two-run home run to give the Orioles a 7-6 win.

Need to know: Frazier saw nine pitches from Wright in the first inning and 10 in the second. ... Wright threw 55 pitches, 35 for strikes. ... Wright committed a throwing error in the second inning on a pickoff attempt that was followed by Frazier’s two-run single. ... Chris Dickerson’s right foot is fine. He led off today and reached on a bunt single in the first. ... Joseph threw out a runner trying to steal and another trying to advance on a pitch in the dirt in the same inning. ... Joseph and Trumbo each had two hits.

On deck: Sunday at Twins in Fort Myers, 1:05 p.m.


SARASOTA, Fla. - Orioles manager Buck Showalter indicated today that he wants his starter candidates working out of a rotation instead of the major league bullpen in long relief roles. Better to keep these guys ready at Triple-A Norfolk and Double-A Bowie in case they’re needed later.

Mike Wright, who started today against the Pirates, would seem to be removed from the bullpen competition in camp, though everything is subject to change. Tyler Wilson, Gabriel Ynoa, Jayson Aquino and Chris Lee are four other examples.

“I’ll tell you, Chris Lee has been real impressive down here. He’s had like three outings as good as you’d want to see down here,” Showalter said.

Chris Tillman will begin the season on the 10-day disabled list, but the Orioles don’t need a fifth starter until April 15. Lee is a candidate to move into the rotation if Tillman or someone else isn’t ready.

“He’d be one of the guys we’d consider,” Showalter said.

“In a perfect world, Chris is healthy and all of our guys are healthy and he’s a good what-if. Our rotation in Norfolk has a chance to be pretty good, depending what we end up doing. I really don’t want to take a guy who we think is a depth piece as a starter and put him in our bullpen. I really don’t want to do that.

“You talk about Ynoa and you talk about Mike and you talk about Tyler and you talk about Chris and you talk about Aquino. I’m not saying they don’t fit into the mix out of our bullpen, but in a perfect world, if they don’t make our club as a starter, they’d be there as a depth piece getting stretched out so that when we have a need, we can go get them.

“There will be some good competition for those five spots. I know they’re talking about the potential of a six-man rotation in Bowie or Norfolk possibly. They don’t have the off-days that we have.”

Wright broke camp in the rotation last spring with Kevin Gausman on the disabled list and Miguel González released. He wants to be in Baltimore next month, but not because Tillman’s stint on the disabled list is extended.

Wright-Delivers-White-Sidebar.jpg“He’s the ace of our staff, so I think everybody’s rooting for him to get better,” Wright said. “He’s in here every day, so we all see what he’s doing and he’s working hard to get back. I personally hope he comes back. We need that veteran leadership and regardless of where that puts me.

“I’m working on getting outs, so wherever I can be used, I want to be used.”

There’s a debate within the industry on Wright’s future role. Some scouts view him more as a late-inning reliever down the road.

“I think it’s a little different this year,” Wright said. “I’m looking at myself as an out-getter. That’s the ultimate goal. I’ve done both the past two years, so when they call on me, either way I’ve got to get outs. That’s what I’m really focused on right now is using all my pitches, making good quality pitches and getting outs.”

Wright knows that he must be more effective against left-handers. He retired Adam Frazier and switch-hitting Alen Hanson and Josh Bell in the first inning today and Danny Ortiz and Hanson in the second. Take the small victories. They could lead to big successes.

It’s too simple to suggest that Wright just needs to keep the ball away from left-handed hitters.

“If you work one side of the plate consistently, they’re going to adjust to it. It’s got to be a mix of both,” he said.

“I thought I made some good pitches, especially in to lefties. Not all of them were called. I think they’re quality pitches. Had somebody else been back there, different umpires have different zones. Regardless, I know they see it.

“I started the game and got two lefties out, so that’s positive. Just trying to execute those pitches down, regardless in or out.”

Wright had a scoreless first, throwing 12 of 17 pitches for strikes, but he allowed three runs in the second and was done after 2 2/3 innings.

“The final numbers are what they are, but I feel positively about what I went out there and executed,” he said. “I thought I made some good pitches. It would be nice to come out on top, but it is what it is.”

Wright worked three scoreless innings in his last start, but he was removed today after 55 pitches.

“You’ve really got to get those guys out,” he said. “If you’re going to get up and down, you’ve got to limit the number of pitches in an inning, just try to get quick outs.”

A wild pickoff throw to second base led to a two-run single by Frazier in the second inning. He didn’t come close to its intended target.

“The ball kind of slipped out of my hand and I threw it with two fingers,” Wright said. “I’ve got to make a better effort trying to get that to second base.”

Left-hander Donnie Hart retired the side in order with two strikeouts in the fourth inning and Ynoa did the same in the sixth. Gift Ngoepe led off the fifth with a triple off Darren O’Day and scored on Frazier’s ground ball to extend the Pirates’ lead to 4-2.

Mark Trumbo singled twice before Trey Mancini pinch-ran for him. Caleb Joseph singled twice and walked before leaving the game in the sixth.

Update: The Orioles took a 5-4 lead in the sixth on Johnny Giavotella’s RBI single and Anthony Santander’s two-run homer. Santander had struck out 10 times in 20 at-bats before today.

Gabriel Ynoa retired the side in order with two strikeouts in the sixth, but the Pirates scored the tying run against him in the seventh on a single, walk, Trey Mancini error and Alen Hanson ground ball.

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