FORT MYERS, Fla. – For the second time in five days, Mike Wright faced the Minnesota Twins. The second time didn’t go as well as the last.
On Mar. 17, Wright pitched five scoreless innings against the Twins. He allowed three runs on five hits in four innings as the Orioles lost to Minnesota 5-1 before 6,461 at Hammond Stadium on Tuesday.
The Orioles, who are now 5-13-4, returned from Monday’s off day with health concerns about Kevin Gausman, Brian Matusz and Jimmy Paredes. Matt Wieters’ sore right elbow continues to improve, manager Buck Showalter said.
If Gausman’s right shoulder isn’t healthy enough for him to start the season on the active roster, Wright and Tyler Wilson, who starts Thursday against Pittsburgh are the primary in-house choices.
Off Wright’s five spring starts, Showalter could decide to keep him, but he has a 5.74 ERA and allowed 19 hits in 15 2/3 innings.
Or, it could be Wilson with a 2.89 ERA. He’s allowed 11 hits in 9 1/3 innings.
Wright allowed a windblown two-run home run to Joe Mauer in the first inning and back-to-back doubles by Carlos Quentin and Oswaldo Arcia.
He described his outing as “solid.” Wright walked one and struck out three, throwing 76 pitches.
“As a whole, that’s probably the worst I’ve felt. But I thought I attacked pretty well. Got behind in some counts, but didn’t give up anything for free,” Wright said.
Showalter concurred with Wright’s assessment.
“Mike was good. Gave up one run. I’m not even counting the routine fly ball to left field which blew out. Had a walk there before that you don’t like to see, but he really only gave up one run today. The conditions elevated his pitch count a little bit,” Showalter said.
Odrisamer Despaigne had a rough fifth inning when he allowed five of his seven baserunners to reach. Despaigne, who has been inconsistent this spring, intrigues Showalter, but has clearly fallen behind Wilson and Wright.
Trevor Plouffe hit a two-run home run off Despaigne, and then he loaded the bases with two outs. Dylan Bundy came in and promptly retired John Ryan Murphy on a fly to right and pitched a hitless sixth.
“I’ll tell you, the last four or five times out he’s looked like a major league pitcher,” Showalter said.
In his last four appearances, Bundy has given up no earned runs on two hits in 5 2/3 innings.
Chaz Roe and Oliver Drake pitched scoreless innings. Drake has not allowed a run in seven innings.
The Orioles got just four hits off four pitchers not expected to start the season with Minnesota. Joey Rickard’s third inning double drove in Dariel Alvarez with the only run. Caleb Joseph had two hits for the Orioles.
Rickard is batting .356 this spring, and the Rule 5 choice continues ti impress.
Nolan Reimold probably has the best chance to get the final outfield spot, but Showalter likes Dariel Alvarez, who is only hitting .206, but is showing good outfield skills and better plate discipline.
“Dariel Alvarez very quietly has had a good spring, especially the last couple weeks,” Showalter said. “The game’s starting to slow down for him.
Alvarez has tried too hard at times.
“Early on, it seemed like he was taking everything. He was trying to please you when you talk about things, but you also want him to turn it loose on balls that he can do some damage. I think the last four, five games, he’s found the happy median. We’ll see if he can continue,” Showalter said.
Alvarez’s chief competition for that last spot seems to be Nolan Reimold, whose quiet spring continues. As the designated hitter, Reimold was hitless in three at-bats, and he’s hitting .162 with two RBIs.
“We’re pretty familiar with Nolan. Seems to be healthy. That’ always a good thing. He’s got some track record in the big leagues when healthy. He hit a ball hard today, and he’s playing again tomorrow,” Showalter said.
“As you see, we’re giving him a lot of reps, making sure where he is physically, and that’s not something he’s thinking about anymore. I think he’s just getting ready to play, so that’s good. Physically, he seems to be in pretty good form, which usually means for a pretty good player.”
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