By Peter Schmuck and Eduardo A. Encina, The Baltimore Sun
7:37 PM EST, February 19, 2012
SARASOTA, Fla. —
New Orioles pitcher Tsuyoshi Wada didn't hesitate when he was asked before Sunday's first official spring training workout whether he wanted to be a starting pitcher or work out of the bullpen.
"I haven't heard anything officially about that yet, but I want to be a starter," Wada said through interpreter Danny MacLeith. "So I'm going to do what I have to do to fill that role."
Wada was signed in December and originally touted as a likely starter, but the Orioles began talking about his versatility as the team stockpiled candidates for the starting rotation. There are a dozen pitchers in camp — including Wada — who have at least a slim chance of opening the season as a major league starter.
Both Wada and Taiwanese left-hander Wei-Yin Chen will have some adjustments to make, since they pitched in Japan and generally worked on five or six days rest rather than the four-day routine employed in the American major leagues.
"I thought about that while I was pitching on five days rest, on six days rest in Japan,'' Wada said. "I knew that it would be on four days rest here so I planned on coming here and having done something. But no matter what I do, I'm going to have to get used to it in the end. So I have that mindset, that I'm going to do what I have to do to get used to it."
Manager Buck Showalter said after the workout that Wada will be in the mix for the starting rotation at least until the middle of March, when the coaching staff will have to reduce the number of candidates to get them enough innings late in training camp.
"He came into camp as a starter," Showalter said. "We hope he makes our club as a starter. We'll go down that path for an extended period of time to give him that an opportunity. I'd like for him to do that."
Johnson upbeat about sore back
Right-hander Jim Johnson played catch Sunday and told reporters that the back soreness he experienced during the offseason should put him no more than a week behind the other pitchers in camp.
"Everything's good, really,'' he said. "I'm just a week behind, so there's like a little strain back there. I'll be on the mound fairly soon, right back out there."
Johnson said that he has been experiencing some soreness for a couple of months, but has embarked on a trunk stabilization program and is getting good results. The biggest impact of the injury is on his conditioning regimen.
"I'm probably just not going to be running much," he said. "That's about the only thing, but we've got all these new toys out here in the training room. A lot of it is just stretching. They have a spine program and a lot of it is just stretching, like small core work. That's really all it is."
Showalter said that Johnson would be on his normal routine right now if the training and coaching staff weren't holding him back.
"That's our timeframe," he said. "We're making him be a week behind. He's chomping at the bit."
It was obvious at FanFest that Mark Reynolds had dropped a lot of weight over the offseason, but the change in his physique seemed even more pronounced when he was out on the practice field in workout clothes.
He said last month that he decided to shed the weight to improve his defense at third base after making 26 errors and moving to first for the final months of the season. Showalter confirmed that the weight reduction program — and the decision to move Reynolds back to third this spring — came out of a meeting they had at the end of last season.
"We talked about it during our exit conversation, but it was up to him," Showalter said. "I think it's going to help him a lot of ways. Understand, he played inside in Arizona and I think a lot of people underestimate the challenge of playing in Baltimore in midsummer. Mark did some things very well statistically last year. I and he both feel strongly that he's better defensively than he showed last year. I think that has a lot to do with it. Yeah, I challenged him somewhat and he took it and ran with it and I really respect that."
Showalter said that Brian Roberts is having "a lot more good days than challenging days" in his attempt to come back from a pair of concussions. Roberts has stopped by the major league facility, but has been working out at the Twin Lakes Park complex and may continue to do that for much of the week.
Around the horn
The Orioles began several days of biomechanical testing, which is a new addition to the annual spring training physical examinations for pitchers. The high-tech program analyzes their deliveries and identifies potential trouble spots. …The arrival of catcher Ronny Paulino and veteran pitcher Dennys Reyes have been delayed because of visa issues. … Left-hander Ryan Edell also hasn't reported and is expected to retire, which means that the Orioles have 29 pitchers in camp. ... Zach Britton will throw for the third time Monday since beginning a rehab progression to address inflammation in his shoulder. He has thrown on alternating days since beginning the progression on Thursday, but will throw on back-to-back days Monday and Tuesday.
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