Orioles right-hander Mike Wright was designated for assignment Sunday, ending the organization’s longest-running roster saga the way it always appeared fated to finish.
The 29-year-old swingman debuted for the Orioles in 2015 and won a starting rotation spot in spring training the following year, but failed to pitch well enough to hold down a consistent major league spot — especially when the team is coming off a doubleheader in which their starters combined for 7 2/3 innings.
“It's been a tough morning,” manager Brandon Hyde said. “We designated Mike. We need innings, and we need a fresh arm in here, and that was the decision we came up with. It was hard to give Mike the news this morning.”
Wright spent all but a few outings of the last two seasons in the bullpen. While his 5.55 ERA in 48 appearances last year was his best in a big league season, and was brought down by some standout stretches, a regime change in the front office and coaching staff meant he had to pitch for his job again this spring. Between a solid spring and a lights-out save in the second game of the season in New York, Hyde hoped Wright was taking the step the previous Orioles regime so badly wanted from him.
“I thought he had a really good spring training, and I was hoping that outing in New York was going to be a big confidence booster for him,” Hyde said. “A lot of times for me, when you can't execute, there's mechanical things but there's also a confidence level too of being able to locate and be able to get big-league hitters out and get off the barrel. I was hoping that outing in New York when he kind of got thrown in there in that save situation and he succeeded, that his confidence level would raise and he'd take off from there. It just didn't seem to happen.”
Wright was plenty complementary of the new methods of the freshly installed coaching staff, but he again couldn’t sustain much success. Hyde said it was more command than anything else that was holding Wright back.
“It's not stuff,” Hyde said. “It was command. I thought when we saw him really good, going back to the game in New York when he closed the game out, he was 96-97 [mph] and the cutter was off the plate and guys had bad swings on him. That's the guy that I think has success in the big leagues. What I saw besides that was just a lot of misses in the middle. If you miss in the middle, especially in this ballpark, you're going to have trouble. It just seemed like he had trouble with command. It wasn't walks, it was being able to put guys away.
“I've also put him in some really tough spots, where he's had to eat innings, we're down a bunch, we need to somehow get through the game, and I rode him hard this week. That's why this morning was so difficult. I try to put guys in a position to have success and I want o try to take care of every player. At some point, sometimes you're not able to, and I felt bad about this week for Mike, for sure. It's just one of those days.”
Wright pitched for the third time this week in Saturday’s second game, and allowed four runs on a pair of home runs in 3 1/3 innings of relief.
The Orioles now have seven days to pass Wright through waivers, trade him, or assign him to the minors.
To take his place, the Orioles added right-handed Gabriel Ynoa from Triples-A Norfolk. Ynoa has a 4.76 ERA in three appearances for the Tides. Hyde said Ynoa would fill a similar long-relief role as Wright.
Karns back in town
Right-hander Nate Karns (forearm strain) was back in the Orioles clubhouse Sunday morning to be checked out by the team's medical staff to see how his rehabilitation should proceed after pitching his first rehab outing Saturday, Hyde said.
Karns, who went on the injured list April 9 after his velocity dropped over his four major league outings, allowed three runs on two hits while recording two outs Saturday at Triple-A Norfolk. He also walked two.