A few post-game notes and roster thoughts
*Tsuyoshi Wada was moved back to start Tuesday instead of Monday a move that manager Buck Showalter explained is “prudent” in the event Wada needs to be put on the disabled list. The team can backdate Wada’s DL stint to have him return as early as April 10 since Tuesday’s game against State College of Florida is not a paid admission contest. The team’s game on Monday, against Florida Southern, is open to fans but they are charging at the door.
This doesn’t mean that Wada to the DL is a conclusion, although it’s certainly setting up that way. He struggled in his only Major League spring start and when asked what he wanted to see from Wada, Showalter ended his quote with, “more than anything I hope he’s physically sound.”
If Wada’s not able to go, that would make Brian Matusz the Orioles’ fifth starter. Matusz allowed three first-inning runs today, but rebounded to go five innings, retiring the last Tigers in order. Matusz is 1-1 with a 3.65 ERA in 24 2/3 spring innings and it would be difficult to imagine a scenario where he doesn’t make the team.
“From where he was to where he is, I’m happy with the progress,” Showalter said of Matusz, who went 1-9 with a 10.69 ERA last year. “There’s another level. And we’ll be making those decisions shortly. But I’m pleased that he’s been able to get a return for what he put into it. Hopefully, he will never go back to that place again.”
*I mentioned pregame that Matt Lindstrom will make his next outing in a Minor League game, with the thought the same as Wada. If Lindstrom, who had a leg cramp the other day, needs to be DL’ed the team can backdate it since his last outing in a big league spring game was March 24. Right now, Showalter doesn’t think Lindstrom will be a DL case.
“Not with a week away. But I never say never,” he said. “Until someone gets up there and pitches, he threw some today and said it felt fine. Tomorrow I think he’s going to cover first a little bit, see about that. From what I know of Matt, he’s that type of guy, [that’s like] ‘Really? They got me on the medical report, come on.'”
*Probably the most interesting camp battle still going on is between lefty relievers Troy Patton and Zach Phillips. Patton hasn’t allowed a run in 10 1/3 innings over 10 outings, giving up eight hits and four walks with four strikeouts. Phillips has allowed two runs in 12 1/3 innings, giving up four hits and two walks and striking out eight.
Phillips has held left-handed hitters to a .118 average this spring while lefties are hitting .286 off Patton. Asked how vital it would be for the team’s lefty to be able to get out left-handed hitters, Showalter paused for a minute and leaned back in his chair.
“Well if you kept two of them the lengths important for one of them,” he said. “If you get one, it’s a little different scenario. But, Zach’s pitched very well this spring. And Zach –I’m not going to handicap who’s pitching better than the other guy, there’s a way u can take both of them. It’d be hard, but I just caution everybody there’s a lot of things moving that you can construct when you are trying to do what’s best for the organization and the depth. But, Zach, both of them are capable of getting left-handed hitters out they showed us that in a previous environment last year, but also know that both of them don’t have a real long track record of doing it. I’m a little cautious with it.”
Patton is out of options, meaning he would have to clear waivers if he doesn’t make the Opening Day roster, while Phillips has two options remaining. The way the bullpen is constructed it would take an injury or trade for both Patton and Phillips to make the club. The team has five right-handed guys who look to be locks: Jim Johnson, Kevin Gregg, Matt Lindstrom, Luis Ayala and Pedro Strop. Asked if the Orioles would need a long man, Showalter said they are trying to set it up so the club has a “maneuverable bullpen,” although he didn’t say it would be a long man per se.
“There’s just so much unknown there,” he said. “We feel like we’ll have some people in our bullpen that can provide more than one inning.”
Alfredo Simon –who is out of options– is a candidate for that job, and Chris Tillman is a another option although it remains to be seen if the organization would prefer to keep the 23-year-old Tillman as a starter.