FORT MYERS, Fla. – Kevin Gausman starts the season on the disabled list, Miguel Gonzalez has been ineffective, and the rest of the rotation hasn’t been particularly outstanding.
That opens up at least one spot for a pitcher, and probably two if Brian Matusz isn’t ready.
Mike Wright and Tyler Wilson tried to take advantage of the opportunity on Monday.
Wright allowed one run on four hits in five innings and Wilson pitched two scoreless innings as the Orioles beat the Boston Red Sox 5-3 before 10,070 at JetBlue Park.
It was the Orioles’ fifth straight win, and they’ve now 10-14-4. After beginning the spring without a win in 12 games, they’re 10-4-2.
Manager Buck Showalter often said during those seemingly fruitless days that the Orioles had constructed a road-heavy schedule that would allow them to play well late in spring training when most of their games were at home.
“I’ll let you all say that. I’m not one of those I told you so guys. I’m not. I’ll let you remind me, if you all actually listen to some things I say,” Showalter said.
Early in camp, Wilson and Wright had other competition. Odrisamer Despaigne, who intrigued Showalter early in camp, was optioned to Triple-A Norfolk on Monday morning. Vance Worley, who has also been competing, is out of options and could be leaving the club in the next few days.
The Orioles still have 41 players in camp. Three of them, Gausman, Matusz and Jimmy Paredes are likely to start the season on the disabled list.
They can wait until Sunday afternoon when they work out at Oriole Park to finalize their squad.
“We’re not going to come out of here with 25—I can tell you that. I’d like to,” Showalter said.
Wright struck out two and walked two, and allowed a home run to Chris Young in the third. Wilson struck out one.
In 20 2/3 innings, Wright had a 4.79 ERA, giving up 11 runs on 23 hits. Wilson pitched 14 1/3 innings with four earned runs on 15 hits. His ERA is 2.51.
“It’s not if, it’s when, kind of with them. Because they’ve both got a chance to be good pitchers in the big leagues. We’re just trying to put our arms around everything and make sure we—they’ve done their part. They’ve had good springs. I’m proud of them,” Showalter said.
Both came to the Orioles in the 2011 draft, Wright in the third round, and Wilson the 10th, and have played on the same teams almost always since.
“We’re out here competing. We’re friends. He’s doing well right now. I was in there watching him. He’s executing pitches just as good as I am, so that’s positive to see,” Wright said.
They drove together from Sarasota, and undoubtedly Virginia’s loss in the NCAA Midwest final came up since Wilson went there. Wright attended East Carolina.
“It was really chatty. We talked about some good stuff today,” Wright said. “That’s a sore subject, but I had to throw a few jabs in there. But there’s not much I can say. EC has no basketball team, basically.”
Wilson and Wright would both like to make the team.
“That’s not my call. I think we’re putting a good product on the field. Guys are playing really hard as you can see this last week. It’s come together well, and that’s really exciting to see,” Wilson said.
It’s not an uncomfortable situation.
“Mike and I go back so far,” Wilson said. “I was fired up to see him, and I gave him a big hug afterwards when I came in for the sixth. I’m sure he’d say the same exact thing, so it makes for good conversation on the way over here when you’re good friends and just kind of have fun and not feel like you’re riding with somebody you’re rooting against.”
The Orioles took a 2-0 lead in the first on Xavier Avery’s leadoff home run and Paul Janish’s RBI single. Janish scored Joey Rickard, who had tripled.
Nolan Reimold, who has eight hits in his last four games, has seen his average soar to .280, had two RBIs on a homer, his third and a single. Francisco Pena also had a home run.
“His last, probably, five days, he’s been swinging the bat pretty well and reminding us of what he’s capable of when he’s healthy. That’s good. But if you get to this point and one pitch or one swing is going to change you completely—for me for me, there’s not a bunch of ties right now where one little thing is going to sway it. If that’s the case, you’re not a good evaluator,” Showalter said.
NOTE: Miguel Gonzalez starts against Atlanta’s Matt Wisler on Tuesday night at 6:05 p.m. in Sarasota.
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