On his slow march back from last summer's serious knee surgery, slugger Mark Trumbo has gotten most of his intensive work at camp from the Orioles' own pitchers, including left-hander Richard Bleier and right-hander Jimmy Yacabonis this week.
Earlier, he faced Andrew Cashner and Dylan Bundy in live settings. The perspective from one of the Orioles' most analytic — and not in the metrics sense — hitters is an interesting one, and Trumbo gave his impressions on why each was difficult to face Thursday.
"Bleier has got tremendous deception," Trumbo said. "You look at the delivery, and it's a lot of arms and legs kind of flying at you. But in addition to that, his command is very good. He knows which pitches work for him, he's got a real nice understanding of what he wants to do with the ball, and it comes down to consistency at this level. He's found a way to be very consistent in repeating his delivery, repeating his location, and I think that's what really stands out. The velocity doesn't jump off the table, but he's got two other elements that are well-above average."
Trumbo was one of the Orioles' hitters who reported that it was a tough at-bat against Bleier late in the 2016 season when he was with the New York Yankees, which contributed to the Orioles acquiring him the following spring training. Bleier will pitch in Saturday's night game against those same Yankees in Sarasota, marking his first Grapefruit League game since last summer's lat surgery, and begin causing those problems for other teams who might be gearing up for bigger fastballs and get the opposite from the Orioles' lefty.
"It looks, in today's game, a little out of place at times, to see something in the mid- to upper-80s," Trumbo said. "Usually the guys that are pitching the high-leverage situations are 10 mph harder than that. But immediately, if you see that, you see someone that's doing well, there's probably a lot more going on. That's the case with him. He just has other weapons at his disposal that some of the real hard throwers that lack the command, it's just a different style."
Trumbo and first baseman Chris Davis faced Yacabonis in a live session on Monday, and he saw similarities in the hard-throwing right-hander, even if there's plenty separating the two pitchers.
"Jimmy has also got tremendous deception," Trumbo said. "They both have deliveries that maybe you wouldn't describe as smooth, but make it very difficult, especially for right-handed hitters, to pick up the ball. Jimmy's next step is going to be pounding the strike zone more. I think that would benefit him especially, getting strike one.
“If you have the nice stuff, what makes it really hard is when the hitter is behind in the count right away — then you can use your wipeout slider, your changeup. But why him and pitchers like him might struggle is falling behind 2-0, 3-1, things like that. Free passes. For a hitter, when you go up against a guy that's kind of herky-jerky like that, you don't really want to make a first-pitch out, or a quick out, let's say. Sometimes, you've got to wait him out. But on the flip side, if he's ahead of you, it puts you on the defensive a little bit. I think that if Jimmy maybe upped that percentage of first-pitch strikes, he can do what he wants from there."
Wynns shelved as Sucre's debut nears
Catcher Austin Wynns (oblique) said he's been prescribed a few days’ rest after tweaking his side during batting practice Tuesday, and that he "definitely avoided something big-time serious" by halting his swings when he did.
Manager Brandon Hyde said they've "got to be really careful" with it, though.
"We don't want to push him in any way," Hyde said. "We've got to make sure that 100 percent, that side is cleared up, and maybe do a couple days just to make sure from there. Obliques are such a tricky thing, in that you can redo it quickly. I just want to make sure that he's 100 percent."
Hyde said Wynns' injury won't influence the plan for catcher Jesús Sucre, who only arrived in camp Monday and is scheduled to catch three innings Friday.
"Then, he's going to catch on Sunday," Hyde said. "I'll progress him as we go along, for sure."
Davis hasn't had outside tests
Hyde said first baseman Chris Davis, who was scratched with a sore hip flexor from Tuesday's game and hasn't played since, hasn't been sent outside the building for tests on his hip just yet.
"Nothing new," Hyde said. "It sounds like it felt a little bit better today, but he's still day-to-day and in the training room right now, still getting treatment."
Davis has one hit — a home run — and seven strikeouts in 14 spring plate appearances.