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Orioles' Wright after rocky start: 'I just hope what I did early in spring gets me on the team'

SARASOTA, FLA. — In his final start of the spring with a roster spot hanging in the balance, Orioles right-hander Mike Wright Jr. struggled for the second straight outing and acknowledged that he hopes the team puts more weight on what he did earlier in the spring than his most recent impression.

"It's not my decision to make," Wright said. "I just hope what I did early in spring gets me on the team."

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Wright allowed seven runs (six earned) on 10 hits in 4 2/3 innings in the Orioles' 10-7 win over the Boston Red Sox before a sellout crowd at Ed Smith Stadium, leaving manager Buck Showalter to explain Wright’s candidacy to make the Opening Day roster and be the team's fifth starter while Alex Cobb prepares for the season.

"He's showed enough for us to evaluate it," Showalter said. "Mike's a strong candidate for a lot of reasons. We think we can help us. Today wasn't a really good statistical return, but if you take the conditions and everything in, it was OK."

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Wright struck out Mookie Betts and Jackie Bradley Jr. in an 11-pitch first inning before things got away from him. Catcher Christian Vázquez hit a one-out home run to center field in the second inning that, with the wind blowing out, Showalter referred to as a "routine fly ball." The inning snowballed with a walk and three more hits to put the Orioles down 4-0.

Boston got a run on two singles and a throwing error by catcher Chance Sisco — all with two outs — in the third inning before scoring two on three hits and a walk in the fifth before Wright was pulled.

"Obviously, you take the conditions in," Showalter said. "You get some pitches elevated on a day like today, you've really got to be conscious of keeping the ball down. He made some good pitches, just not enough of them. But he's healthy and he got up to [89] pitches. We were trying to take him a tad below 90. We got that done. We'll take the good parts of it, and there's things we need to improve on."

Considering those are the goals of a starter, Wright seems to be done with his Grapefruit League work with a 6.63 ERA (14 earned runs in 19 innings) with 13 walks and five strikeouts while allowing 26 hits.

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With Cobb agreeing to start the season in the minor leagues to get prepared after signing in the final week of spring training, the roster clog that could have kept the Orioles from keeping Wright, who is out of minor league options, is lessened. It remains between him, Nestor Cortes Jr. and Miguel Castro to start until Cobb is ready. Wright says he believes his body of work this spring, which began with four outings spanning 10 innings with four runs in on seven hits, is better than his past two starts.

"I'm disappointed in my last two outings," Wright said. "Obviously, we're about to start the season, so you're not trying to give up 10 hits in [4 1/3 innings]. But I feel like I'm in a good spot. All my pitches are working pretty well. I thought I was making some pretty good pitches.

"They're a good-hitting team, and that's what they're going to do during the season, but hopefully later on in the year, I get some plays and I can get a little more off the end of the bat, a little more in on them, something to get a few more ground balls and a few more outs."

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