SARASOTA, Fla. - Above all else, right-hander Asher Wojciechowski passed the health test today as he threw two innings against the Atlanta Braves at Ed Smith Stadium.
He showed the blister on his right middle finger is indeed no longer an issue. He said that is important because just about every pitch he throws comes off that finger.
“None at all,” he said when asked if there were any problems. “I’ve dealt with that before in my career. Nothing new. Fingers held up good. We’ve been doing good work in the training room getting the skin to heal.”
Today he threw two innings, allowing a solo homer in the second to leadoff hitter Travis d’Arnaud. He allowed two hits and the one run with no walks and two strikeouts. He threw 15 pitches in the first and 18 in the second with a total of 24 of 33 for strikes.
“Felt good,” he said. “Focus was really just to throw strikes. First time out there you have that little self-doubt, when its been through the offseason. So, nice to go out there and execute pitches and just get back into the rhythm.
“I made one mistake to d’Arnaud, first pitch of the second inning. I knew he was going to swing and just didn’t execute that pitch. But for the most part, just happy with how I felt. Looking to build upon each outing and get ready for the season.”
He broke out a new pitch today, a split-change to add to his four-seam fastball, cutter and slider.
“I threw two. I was happy with one of them,” Wojciechowski said. “It was just a little bit off, I throw one to (Ozzie) Albies a little off and another to (Johan) Camargo. It was just all right. Definitely want to utilize that pitch more. Need to throw it in these games and see how it works against hitters.”
Wojciechowski might have an edge on other rotation candidates after going 4-8 with a 4.92 ERA last year over 17 games and 82 1/3 innings for the Orioles.
He was asked if he feels he has to win a job or has an edge already on getting one.
“I’d say my mentality is yes, win a rotation job,” he replies. “I don’t want to change my mindset on how I compete or prepare. I want to give everything I have every single day. When it comes to mindset and preparation, I’m not changing a thing. That said, it is kind of nice knowing I have somewhat of a role. But I’m not letting that change the way I prepare.
“By no means do I think I had a great season last year. I felt I did all right and I established myself. But I’m looking to build upon that and always get better. When it came to offseason goals, really just trying to pick up a fourth pitch with the split-change. And really just working on my body to kind of navigate the long season, so I don’t go through that lull that I went through last August. Where I had no energy and my body was tired. Worked out hard and trained smart to prepare myself for a long season.”