If you try to cast a silver lining into Tyler Wells’ baseball world relating to his wrist injury, you won’t get a nibble.
The Orioles are monitoring his innings after he underwent Tommy John surgery and didn’t pitch the last two seasons. A brief stay on the injured list makes it easier, giving the Rule 5 pick an unexpected rest period that could benefit him over the last two months.
Wells stood in front of the dugout steps Sunday morning while teammates did some throwing in the outfield, a brace on his right wrist, and expressed his disappointment in being shut down with tendinitis.
Not now. Not when his manager is ready to make him the closer.
“I do not want to be on the IL. No one ever does,” Wells said, putting special emphasis on each word of his first sentence.
“I am too much of a competitor. I wish I could be out there in every single game, but from the bigger picture of things, right now it’s more important to actually stay healthy and continue to be healthy, considering coming off TJ and not throwing for two years. So it’s kind of a bittersweet thing.
“I’m certainly not going to waste the IL stint. I’m going to do what I can, not just for my wrist but for my body, to work on things I need to get worked on or I need to get better out. Come out and hopefully perform even better than I have been. That’s the ultimate goal for me.”
Wells, 26, already has made a tremendous impression on the Orioles, who selected him from the Twins organization with their second pick in the Rule 5 draft. His ERA is down to 3.92 and WHIP to 0.939 in 29 appearances. He’s struck out 55 batters in 43 2/3 innings, the most in the majors among rookie relievers, and walked only nine.
Manager Brandon Hyde has used Wells in the ninth inning in the right-hander’s last four outings, though none in a save situation. It’s become crystal clear that Hyde wants to give him a chance to close.
That experiment has been put on temporary hold.
“I’m hoping that’s the case, especially once I come back,” Wells said. “I can’t speak for him, but it’s like, if that’s the opportunity that he wants to give me and he feels 100 percent confident in me to go out there and do it, I know that I’m 100 percent confident in myself to be able to go out there and do it. Pitch in any situation that he needs me to.
“For me, it absolutely is 100 percent something I could do, want to do. And I always want the ball, so I feel very comfortable in that position.”
Hyde sounds confident that Wells will get back on a mound when eligible to return, the move backdated to last Tuesday. There’s already improvement in the wrist.
“It’s getting better each and every day,” Wells said. “It was kind of like a slow onset and then the last game in Tampa that I threw, I woke up the next morning and I just had a good amount of irritation with it. So we sat down, we tried to get it taken care of over the course of the next couple days and it just didn’t progress as quickly as we had hoped. But it’s progressing a lot better now and we’re taking care of it every day and hopefully it shouldn’t put me out for too long.”
Wells never sustained a wrist injury or had any kind of discomfort until this summer.
“I didn’t notice it too much until probably after the All-Star break. I would say that if anything the onset was probably a day before the All-Star break,” he said.
“It was kind of like a weird thing that came on all of a sudden, but it’s nothing that I’m too concerned about. It’s nothing that the training staff is too concerned about, either.”
A pitcher who undergoes a ligament reconstruction in his elbow, with a tendon sewn in, isn’t going to panic over wrist tendinitis.
He’s disappointed, of course, but he’s gained perspective over the years.
“My biggest fear is obviously elbow coming off TJ, but this is just inflammation and as far as inflammation goes, it’s something that we deal with on a daily basis in the big leagues,” Wells said.
“It is just something that got a little too uncomfortable and it made me start to feel like I had to manipulate my pitches, which is exactly what I don’t want to do, so we just handled it that way. That’s when we felt it necessary to take those necessary steps to make sure it got to 100 percent before I got back out there.”
Notes: I wrote yesterday morning about left-handers Paul Fry and Tanner Scott being the most attractive trade chips as the deadline approaches at 4 p.m. Friday and they continue to draw the bulk of the interest from contenders. The expectation remains that one of them will be moved.
The Orioles are inviting fans ages 21 and over to their second Crab Feast at Camden Yards on Friday, Aug. 13, from 6 -10 p.m. while the team is in Boston.
Fans can watch the game on the center field video board and enjoy all-you-can-eat crabs and drinks at tables set up on the infield. The feast includes unlimited crabs and a variety of sides, along with beer, soda and water. An Orioles bottle opener also will be distributed.
Complimentary parking will be available in Lot C, and fans may enter through Gate C beginning at 6 p.m. Tickets are $125 and can be purchased by visiting Orioles.com/CrabFeast.