Right-hander Mike Wright Jr. saw plenty of action in the Orioles’ 6-3 exhibition loss to the Tampa Bay Rays on Friday afternoon, but that doesn’t mean he didn’t pitch well in his 2018 Grapefruit League debut at Ed Smith Stadium.

He opened with a 12-pitch walk to Rays leadoff hitter Micah Johnson and allowed a slow bouncer that found its way through the right side of the infield to set up the first Rays run, but was in the strike zone consistently during his two-inning appearance and retired the final five batters.

Advertisement

“That first batter obviously put a really good at-bat out there, but I felt like I was throwing some pretty good pitches,’’ Wright said. “They just need to be a little bit more crisp and I would have got them.”

For Orioles right-hander Mike Wright Jr., the time is now

Mike Wright Jr. is out of minor league options, so the Orioles must find out how he can help them now.

The second inning was a one-man show. He struck out leadoff batter Johnny Field, fielded a swinging bunt in front of the mound to get the second out and caught a popup near the mound to end the inning.

“Yeah, I mean, anytime you can get three easy outs and get a double play in an inning, anything like that is very big,” he said.

His line: Two innings, one run, one hit, one walk, one strikeout.

Manager Buck Showalter was impressed with the way Wright maintained his composure after the difficult first inning.

“That was a good outing because that’s something he’s going to have to do,” Showalter said. “You’re going to have a guy foul off six, seven or eight — whatever it was. You’re going to have a guy roll a ball through the hole, and now what are you going to do? He kept it to one run and kept us very much in the game. That’s good to see. Didn’t let his emotions get in the way of him. That was a good, calm professional outing.”

It was the second time in three years that Wright was chosen to start the Orioles’ first exhibition game. He’s out of minor league options and must make the team or be exposed to waivers, so every outing is important.

“I’m out of options, so I’m trying to make the team and obviously [either] in the bullpen or the rotation, I’m in the big leagues, but things like this are key because I want to be in the rotation,” Wright said. “I think that’s where I’m best at and that’s where I want to stick at, so that’s what I’ve been working on all offseason.”

He also has added an additional pitch, which he worked on at Norfolk last year and unveiled here Friday.

“Yeah, it’s been multiple years that Buck’s said I need to get lefties out,” Wright said. “I need to have something for lefties and I think that cutter is kind of big. I think it really complements my sinker.”

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement