SARASOTA, Fla. – The focus should have been entirely on the Orioles’ first win of spring training. Instead of the feel good story, the attention was again on Matt Wieters.
It was a year ago that Wieters was making his return from June 2014 Tommy John surgery. He hoped to be ready for Opening Day. After he played a game against the Minnesota Twins last Mar. 17, Wieters’ elbow flared up and he didn’t play for the Orioles until early June.
This spring, Wieters had played five games without incident, but in the top of the first inning, he felt soreness on Eduardo Nunez’s steal of second base.
He left the game after the inning.
The Orioles went on to break the worst spring training start of any major league team since the 2009 Houston Astros with an 8-1 win over the Minnesota Twins before 7,523 at Ed Smith Stadium on Saturday.
Instead of manager Buck Showalter being peppered with questions about the day, he was asked about Wieters.
“Just elbow soreness, and decided not to take a chance with him. Just get him out of there. [It’s] normal. I think all catchers have it during the spring, so we’ll see what tomorrow brings. Doctors examined him and everything, and we’ll see. I think everybody gets alarmed because of, rightfully so, with the surgery there. Hopefully, it’ll manage and be OK,” Showalter said.
Wieters wasn’t scheduled to make the trip to Fort Myers for the Orioles’ game with Minnesota, and Showalter said that it would be re-evaluated on Monday, but for now there would be no MRI.
“I don’t think there’s any plans. They took an X-ray, looked good. It’s one of those things where if it doesn’t start managing better, they’ll go to the more involved step. But so far, so good,” Showalter said.
“We have plenty of time.”
Having been through so much with Wieters, Showalter tries not to publicly worry.
I’m going to stay positive where Matt’s concerned. I’m not going there yet. We’ll see what the next few days brings. I’m curious to see how he feels the day after tomorrow, not really tomorrow.”
“You guys know I’m not trying to downplay it. It’s always a concern because of the history with it, but I’m thinking good things. Same thing I told Matt,” Showalter said.
After the win, Showalter acknowledged that he was thinking about how long it had been since his team won.
“I was adding up the days in the dugout,” he said.
It had been 160 days since Oct. 4, the final day of the regular season when the Orioles recorded their last win.
Manny Machado had two doubles, Mark Trumbo had a two-run single while Audry Perez and Steve Tolleson had two-run home runs.
Ubaldo Jimenez made his third start, and his second against Minnesota in five days. It was rockier than the first when he pitched three scoreless innings, allowing one hit.
Jimenez gave up a run on three hits and walked one in the first inning, but only one more hit as he retired a batter in the fourth inning before being removed.
“You probably don’t feel too good facing against those guys too many times, but this is spring training. I think the main thing I was able to [do] was go ahead and throw the fastball. I wasn’t shy about throwing it today,” Jimenez said.
He’s the first Orioles pitcher to work into the fourth inning. Jimenez, who gave up six runs while retiring just one batter in his first start on Mar. 2, has been much more solid since then.
Phil Hughes, who pitched against Jimenez five days before, was scratched in favor of reliever Trevor May. Minnesota manager Paul Molitor, who may start Hughes against the Orioles in the opening series early next month, didn’t want him facing the Orioles three straight times. The Orioles and Twins again meet on Mar. 17.
May allowed three runs in the first and one in the second. Manny Machado had two doubles and an RBI while Mark Trumbo had two RBIs.
With two infield singles in his last two games, Hyun Soo Kim was given the day off. He spent some time before the game chatting with his friend, Byung Ho Park, the Twins’ DH.
NOTES: The Orioles reassigned seven players to minor league camp. Pitchers Cesar Cabral, Andy Oliver and Ashur Tolliver, catchers Jonah Heim and Chance Sisco and infielders Trey Mancini and Ozzie Martinez were cut. The Orioles have 51 players remaining in camp. Showalter says that he expects a few more by Monday. … Miguel Gonzalez pitches against the Twins’ Ricky Nolasco in Fort Myers on Sunday when Pedro Alvarez is scheduled to make his Orioles debut. … The Orioles recorded their fourth sellout of the spring.