SARASOTA, Fla. - Left-hander Richard Bleier is scheduled to make his Grapefruit League debut on Saturday when the Orioles play split-squad games against the Rays in Port Charlotte and the Yankees in Sarasota.
Bleier threw a simulated game yesterday on one of the back fields at the Ed Smith Stadium complex - he said it counted as more than live batting practice because an umpire was used - and worked two “innings” against Mark Trumbo and Joey Rickard.
“It went fine. It was good,” he said.
“Everything went fine with that now I’m in a game on Saturday, so we’re ready for game action. As ready as we’re going to be.”
A full recovery from lat surgery in June has led Bleier to the brink of his first exhibition appearance, with no discomfort or restrictions while pitching.
Bleier expects to be ready for opening day, a mindset he carried through the winter. He can accumulate the proper amount of innings - he estimated eight as being sufficient - over the final weeks of camp.
“If everything goes smoothly, obviously, but as of now, yeah, I should be good to go,” he said.
Meanwhile, catcher Austin Wynns said he just needs a few more days before receiving clearance to play after an MRI on his sore left oblique came back clean.
Wynns felt the oblique grab while taking batting practice and is confident that he avoided a more serious injury by shutting down immediately and seeking treatment.
“I’ll be out for a few days,” he said. “That’s it. Just get back on the field as fast as possible. That’s my mentality.
“BP it just grabbed me a little bit, and just wanted to take precaution. I’ll be all right.”
Anything related to the oblique raises concerns because it’s an injury that can linger for months and setbacks are common if a player rushes back into workouts or games.
“You’re definitely going to take precautions,” Wynns said, “so right now just be smart and get back on the field as quick as I can.”
Wynns insisted that he isn’t worried about going on the newly named “injured list,” which has replaced “disabled list” in baseball vernacular.
“Whatever it is, I’m not going to be on that,” he said. “I won’t be on that. That’s my mentality.”
Reliever Paul Fry explained the drop in fastball velocity yesterday from his usual spring 89-90 mph that prompted a visit from pitching coach Doug Brocail after the left-hander struck out the first batter faced at Charlotte Sports Park.
Blame it on a slow radar gun.
“It was just down on the board,” he said. “I checked with our guys and they had it a lot higher than it was on the board there. I guess the board was kind of slow yesterday. I don’t know why.
“I checked to make sure. Everything felt fine.”
Fry glanced back and saw a reading of 87 mph.
“I thought, ‘Oh, what is going on here?’” he said. “But yeah, I think it was the board because I checked with our guys and they had it higher.
“No pain or anything like that.”
Fry hasn’t been scored upon in his four appearances. He stranded two runners yesterday that reached on singles, raising his hits allowed total to three.
“Pretty happy with it so far,” he said. “Working on throwing my strikes. I know my first outing I had some walks in there and somehow escaped that. Just throwing strikes, attacking the zone, controlling the zone, throwing my pitches when I want to throw them.”
Fry hasn’t gained a sense of whether he’s in manager Brandon Hyde’s bullpen plans for opening day. Whether the Orioles will carry a third left-hander along with Bleier and Tanner Scott. He can’t rate his chances of heading north after making 35 appearances last summer as a rookie.
“Right now I’ve just got to stay out of my own head,” he said. “Just stay the course and control what I can control and throw strikes.”