Tsuyoshi Wada Struggles

Yesterday, Orioles LHP Tsuyoshi Wada pitched in an exhibition contest against the Minnesota Twins. It didn't go well; Wada struggled with his command and was knocked around a little bit by a Twins lineup that featured six regulars: Joe Mauer, Justin Morneau, Denard Span, Alexi Casilla, Ben Revere, and Jamey Carroll. That's not murderer's row, but it is a major league lineup.

It wasn't a good game for Wada in a dual sense, as he has a limited number of opportunities to prove to the Orioles that he should be the fifth starter on Opening Day over competition from Brian Matusz, Chris Tillman, Dana Eveland, and Alfredo Simon. After the game, Wada waxed apologetic for his poor performance (from Roch Kubatko's blog):

It didn't go that well. I'm not satisfied.

I wasn't able to throw correctly with my normal form today. The first-pitch strike with the fastball I pitched was hit easily. I have to work on it more.

If I keep pitching like this, I know I won't be able to throw and be in the starting rotation, I might not even be able to throw in general (for the Orioles) if I keep up throwing like this. I have to work on it.

I was missing a lot of two-seamers in the second inning. I couldn't throw a strike, a lot of walks in that inning. That inning wasn't good. I feel really bad for the position players about it. I said sorry about it.

I was trying to have fun today, and it wasn't awkward or anything. I liked the atmosphere, I was really looking forward to pitching today. That's why I feel sorry for the crowd that came here to watch me.

That's a little bit of a different take from the usual pro ball player rebop, which is kind of nice if a little jarring. Manager Buck Showalter and catcher Matt Wieters both more or less dismissed Wada's down attitude, saying that, hey, it's Spring Training, we believe in Wada's stuff, he's going to get some more chances to show it off.

To which I say: good. The Orioles obviously believed in Wada enough to sign him to a lucrative contract, and one bad outing in Spring Training is nowhere near enough of a justification to try and ship him off to the minors or out to the bullpen. Maybe in a few months we will know much better how well Wada's stuff will work for the Orioles, but for now there's not a lot of reason to abandon their original plan, despite the Spring Training competition. Hey, Spring Training competitions just aren't super important in the grand scheme of things.

Showalter also mentioned that the Orioles do not want Wada to be dealing with acclimating himself to both his first time ever working out of a relief role in addition to his first time ever working in the United States, so they will try and give him more chances to win the starting job they had envisioned for him.

That's a point that shouldn't be forgotten here. A huge bulletpoint in the Orioles' plans to get better is a heavier international investment, as their current international corps of players is lacking. One of the really big somewhat forgotten issues, completely off the playing field, is getting these guys comfortable being strangers in a strange land. That really should be a priority for the Orioles right now with how they handle Wada, and it's good to see that in fact it is.

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