Orioles starting pitcher Tommy Hunter, who has been bothered by lower-back soreness early in training camp, has been scratched from his scheduled exhibition start Tuesday and will pitch a two-inning simulated game instead.
Manager Buck Showalter indicated that the decision is precautionary and that Hunter wanted to go through with his scheduled Grapefruit League appearance. Chris Tillman will start against the Boston Red Sox in his place, and offseason acquisition Dana Eveland will also throw two innings in Fort Myers.
The change allows Hunter to miss a bus trip and simply pitch from his windup and stretch without having to field the position under game conditions.
"Tommy says, 'I get this all the time,'" Showalter said, "but you're cautious while you still can be."
Alfredo Simon and Brian Matusz are scheduled to pitch the split-squad openers Monday, and Taiwanese pitcher Wei-Yin Chen will make his American exhibition debut Wednesday.
Wada resumes throwing
Japanese pitcher Tsuyoshi Wada played catch for eight minutes from 50 feet and will do so again Friday if he continues to be pain-free. He had his elbow drained Sunday and has been shut down since.
"I feel very good," he said through interpreter Danny McLeith. "I feel much better than I did before I took the rest. I'm going to catch again tomorrow and see how things go. Then we'll make a new plan."
Wada and Showalter refused to speculate on the timetable for the left-hander's first exhibition appearance, but Showalter said there would be ample time to get him ready for the regular season if he can avoid any more setbacks.
Buck on playoff expansion
It's looking more and more like Major League Baseball will announce Thursday that the new 10-team playoff format will go into effect this season. The Commissioner's Office and the players union have been working with an informal Thursday deadline for adding one more wild-card team in each league and starting the postseason with a single wild-card play-in game in each league.
Showalter may be an old-school manager, but he said Thursday that he's good with whatever pleases the fans.
"We all think everything was so much [better in the old days]," he said. "My two thoughts are, 'What do the fans want?' ... 'What enhances our game?' That's the bottom line. Whatever it is, we embrace it, whether it's interleague play, whether it's the DH, whether it's not the DH, whether it's playing a 12 o'clock game on the West Coast so we can get to the game. Whatever. Suck it up. That's really the deciding factor for me."
First intrasquad game
The Orioles will play their first intrasquad game Friday at 1:05 p.m. at Ed Smith Stadium. It'll provide some real matchups, but the game will be interrupted regularly so each pitcher can practice executing a defensive drill after his outing. Still, after nearly two weeks of basic drills and batting practice, the players are looking forward to competing, even if it is against guys in the same uniforms.
"It's nice to get the games going," catcher Matt Wieters said. "It's nice to face live pitching. It's good to get a game going so we can really see what we need to work on and things in game situations that you might need to practice before you go out there for the games. I think once you get two weeks into working on the fundamentals, which you definitely need, most baseball players are ready to go."
Around the horn
Catcher Ronny Paulino is still working out his visa issues and hasn't arrived in camp, but his car arrived Thursday. The Orioles still expect him to eventually get here, but nobody seems to know what to think about veteran pitcher Dennys Reyes. … Pitcher Oscar Villarreal is back in camp after taking care of some visa paperwork and threw a bullpen session…Showalter said reliever Jason Berken's sore hamstring is improving.
Baltimore Sun reporter Eduardo A. Encina contributed to this article.Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun