Wilkerson is going to see a hand specialist to determine the cause of the swelling in his left ring finger. He made a diving catch in the bottom of the second inning to rob the Phillies’ Jean Segura and came out of the game.
Manager Brandon Hyde provided the update on his Zoom conference call with the media following a 5-1 win at Citizens Bank Park.
Wilkerson is engaged in a competition that also includes Pat Valaika, who homered tonight, Andrew Velazquez and Dilson Herrera. Hyde doesn’t know how many players in the group will appear on the opening day roster.
Also, the Orioles are filing the paperwork to place outfielder Dwight Smith Jr. on the injured list because he reported late to summer training camp after testing positive for COVID-19. He can be activated at any time, leaving him as an option for opening day.
Smith has been hitting live pitching at Camden Yards the past few days while rushing to get ready.
Hays was going to leave anyway because he was slated for only a couple of at-bats.
“He’s a little sore,” Hyde said. “I might keep him out tomorrow. I’m not sure yet. But it kind of got him on a bad spot on the side of his knee area.”
The Orioles are happy for the win, but more relieved that they survived the experience.
“I don’t like to see our guys get hit. It makes me nervous big-time,” Hyde said.
“(Zack) Wheeler didn’t have real good command and missed inside on us a little bit. Tanner Scott missed one up with (Bryce) Harper, too. You don’t want to see that right now for sure. You don’t want to see it anytime, but we’re all nervous about keeping our guys healthy and breaking with everybody healthy and ready to go, so that definitely goes through your mind.”
Thomas Eshelman tossed 4 2/3 scoreless innings as John Means’ replacement, with the left-hander questionable for opening day due to arm fatigue. Eshelman allowed four hits, walked one batter and struck out five.
“The way Tom threw the ball tonight, that’s a major league lineup,” Hyde said. “He’s facing seven All-Stars the first seven hitters in that lineup and really changed speeds nicely on both sides of the plate. Was really pitching off the barrel, throwing strikes.
“He had a lot of movement on his fastball, he had a really good changeup. That was the best for me, the best his curveball has been. And he pitched with a ton of confidence tonight, so that was just an outstanding performance.”
Said Eshelman: “I faced them in spring training, as well. It was awesome. I finally got to pitch in Citizens Bank Park after being with the Phillies for four years and not getting called up, so that was a cool experience for me.”
Eshelman is lined up to replace Means on opening day if necessary, but he’s still trying to make the club.
“We’re going to have some discussions tomorrow,” Hyde said. “We’re going to see how John is. There are a few guys in play if John can’t go.”
A 10th inning allowed to be played based on the same relaxed rules as found in intrasquad games.
The Phillies didn’t bat in the bottom half. The game also included shortened and extended innings. The television broadcast was piped through the public address system for a few minutes in the first inning.
Welcome to the weirdness of 2020.
“We’re getting used to it,” Hyde said. “It’s definitely different but we’re getting used to it in that we’re used to talking with masks on our face and having to talk a little louder with the crowd noise that they’re playing kind of a buzz in the ballpark. One thing we’re continuing to catch ourselves with is third outs of the inning and not being able to bring gloves out to guys. Your at first base and you’re in the third base dugout, that’s a long run back if you’re playing right field to go back out there.
“You get used to some old habits that I think our guys are adjusting to, but it’s just different.”