Notes: Wright on track to start Sunday
Right-hander not pain-free but likely to be activated soon
BALTIMORE -- Jaret Wright may not be pain-free, but he's as close as he's going to get.
The right-hander returned to Camden Yards Wednesday and said that he's on track to be activated from the disabled list to make his scheduled Sunday start. Wright, who has had two prior surgeries on his pitching shoulder, made a rehab start with Class A Frederick on Tuesday night and reported nothing out of the ordinary on Wednesday.
"I always feel something," he said when asked if he felt any discomfort. "It's not like a 21-year-old shoulder. It's manageable, and if it stayed like that, I think I'd be OK."
Wright got rocked in his first start this year but he was pitching well in his second when his shoulder tightened up. He came out after five innings in that game and the Orioles placed him on the disabled list for precautionary reasons. Wright missed half of the 2005 season with a similar ailment, but he feels he's ready to pitch again.
Wright came by that opinion honestly after pitching well for Frederick. The 31-year-old worked into the fifth inning and allowed just three hits and one earned run against opponents that are at least a decade younger than him. The results weren't necessarily important, but the chance to get on the mound again gave him peace of mind.
"I don't know velocity or anything like that, but I thought the stuff was alright," he said, grading his performance. "It's always nice to try it out once before it really counts, but I thought everything was alright."
Now, the plan is to press Wright through his side-session on Thursday before making a final decision on whether he's ready to return. If he feels no adverse effects, Wright will likely slot right back into the rotation. His turn only came up once in the last few weeks, thanks in part to a rainout and a well-placed off-day.
Long reliever Jeremy Guthrie pitched well in Wright's absence on Tuesday and will likely return to his primary role as soon as the veteran returns. Baltimore manager Sam Perlozzo said he's not ready to commit to bringing Wright back just yet, but he admitted that the chances are pretty good based on the information at his disposal.
"I talked to him a little bit," Perlozzo said. "He said the first inning was trying to get a little loose, and after that, he was fine. Hopefully, his side session tomorrow will go [well], and then we can make a move."
Day off: Perlozzo gave third baseman Melvin Mora his first game off Wednesday night, and he said the move was largely based on two factors. One was the fact that he hasn't had a day off yet, and the other was his career statistics against Boston starter Curt Schilling. Mora has hit .120 (3-for-25) with nine strikeouts off Schilling.
"I've been looking at it, and I try to stay three or four days ahead -- [but] only if you're thinking about giving someone [a day] off," Perlozzo said. "Normally, your starter's your starter and he's playing. If you feel like it's time for someone to get a day off, you always try to pick some [day] that you feel will be a favorable situation for the team."
Perlozzo said Mora's recent play had nothing to do with the day off. The veteran was involved in a controversial play on Monday night and made a costly error on Tuesday, but Perlozzo said that was all behind him.
"He's played every game. It's like I told him, just like I tell anybody else, 'Everybody's had days off,' " he said. "You don't want to shoot the guy to the bench when he's 8-for-10 [off someone]."
Mora didn't feel like commenting Wednesday, issing just one brief soundbyte before repeating himself.
"Ask the manager," he said of the decision to sit him down. "He's got the answer for you."
State of the team: Perlozzo spoke in the hours before Wednesday's game about where his team stands. He said he's been pleased with Baltimore's play even if you take into account the two most recent games.
"I think we've done extremely well, [but] I thought the last two games weren't that good, obviously," he said. "Two games we could've won, but we didn't. But prior to that, I think everything was going pretty well. We had a little rough start against Minnesota, played good against Detroit and have played really well since then."
Special guest: The Orioles welcomed Sgt. Mark Ecker to throw out the first pitch Wednesday, and the veteran of the war in Iraq spent the pregame hours meeting with some of Baltimore's players. Ecker bathed in a warm ovation before throwing his first pitch, and he hugged reliever Jamie Walker as he walked off the field.
Ecker, a bilateral amputee who was injured by an improvised explosive device while overseas, will spend the next 6-8 months recovering at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C.
Quotable: "We expect that they're going to throw five good ones at you every time you go out there. [We're facing] two of their best, so we'll do the best we can. We've got to beat them through the course of the year. We've got to face them, so we can't back off them." -- Perlozzo, on Boston's Josh Beckett and Curt Schilling
Coming up: The Orioles and Red Sox will meet again Thursday in the finale to their two-game set at 7:05 p.m. ET, and Beckett will be matched against Baltimore's Adam Loewen, who is 2-0 thus far this season.
Spencer Fordin is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.