2/25/2013 4:19 P.M. ET
Encouraging signs in Wada's first 'pen session
By Brittany Ghiroli / MLB.com
SARASOTA, Fla. -- Tsuyoshi Wada threw a bullpen session Monday morning, his first since undergoing Tommy John surgery on his left elbow last May, as the pitcher continues to progress forward with encouraging results.
"Everything did go well," Wada said through interpreter Seob Yoon. "[Orioles manager Buck Showalter] and the media were here, too, so I was a little bit nervous.
"I haven't thrown in a long time on the mound, so I was actually very happy and it was very fun. I have been throwing on the half-mound, so it didn't feel awkward. It wasn't much of a difference, but it was very fun."
Monday's session marked Wada's first time on a full mound since a rehab start April 19 for Triple-A Norfolk in which he went 2 2/3 innings, allowing six earned runs on six hits and four walks with a strikeout. His next step depends on how he recovers, with Wada saying "maybe" when asked if he would throw another bullpen session Wednesday.
"It's been a long road for him," Showalter said of Wada, who was signed last winter and has yet to throw a pitch for the big league club. "It's a big day not only for him, but potentially for us. A chance to get a real good pitcher back.
"Sometimes we handicap that stuff [with return dates], and none of us can see inside his elbow, but I don't know what else he can do. He's passed every test so far. They've done a great job, another great thing what [owner Peter Angelos] and [executive vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette] have allowed us to do with the rehab coordinator, Chris Correnti, and all those people, the work they've done with him. [Wada has] been diligent. He spent very little time in Japan trying to get back."
Wada's return could be in May or June, and the Orioles will have to make a decision as to whether to put him on the 60-day disabled list and get an extra 40-man-roster spot. If they do that, Showalter said Wada would be eligible to return on May 30.
Showalter watched Wada's bullpen session along with Correnti, director of pitching development Rick Peterson and pitching coach Rick Adair, who said the ball was coming out of Wada's hand much better than when he last saw him 10 days ago.
"I'm excited for him, because, missing last year, especially with what this club went through and not being a part of that, and then seeing how things unfolded and what he was going through and all the work he put in," Adair said. "A lot of time you're by yourself, just the people who are going through the rehab process with you, so I'm excited for him. Seeing that and knowing what he's been through, he's got to be real excited, so I'm excited for him."
Matusz felt 'good from the get-go' vs. Yanks
SARASOTA, Fla. -- Orioles lefty Brian Matusz pitched two scoreless innings Monday afternoon in a solid Grapefruit League debut against the Yankees.
Matusz, who is vying for a rotation spot, allowed a pair of singles to start the game and retired the next five batters in a contest the Orioles went on to win, 5-1. The 26-year-old Matusz threw 30 pitches, 20 strikes, and was pleased with how it went.
"It was nice to get out there and get the first one out of the way, kind of get in the rhythm again," said Matusz, who was used out of the bullpen for the Orioles down the stretch last year. "It's been a while since I've been a starter. It's nice to work on the routine again and try and find that. Out there on the mound, working well with [Matt] Wieters and the group, establishing the fastball. Threw some changeups, got a couple of ground balls out of it. ... It was a nice first start. Good to have something to go off of now."
Of the two hits, one was an infield single that speedy Yankees outfielder Brett Gardner beat out after Chris Davis made a great stop at first base and relayed the throw to Matusz.
"I thought I felt good from the get-go," Matusz said. "Gardner, he's a tough out. He puts the ball on the ground. You've got to be perfect. He's so fast. [Jayson] Nix [hit] a little bleeder. Those types of things happen. Nice to be able to bounce back and get good defense."
The Orioles turned a double play on Matt Diaz's ball for the first two outs of the game, and Matusz, who said he was able to fall into a rhythm, followed that up with a strikeout of Juan Rivera.
Asked what he's working on this spring, Matusz said everything.
"Finding a routine as a starter, get everything going, fastball in and out, curveball, slider, changeup," he said. "Right now, my focus is getting my fastball and changeup established. Breaking pitches [are] a little bit behind right now, curveball and slider aren't there. Like I said, got the fastball and changeup going, the curveball and slider will work out."
Veteran arms to get sim-game work on Tuesday
SARASOTA, Fla. -- The Orioles will have a simulated game on the back fields at Ed Smith Stadium on Tuesday, with several veterans throwing. Wei-Yin Chen, Jason Hammel and Miguel Gonzalez are among the starters who haven't appeared in an official game and will throw 20-25 pitches. Relievers Jim Johnson and Darren O'Day, who have also been what manager Buck Showalter calls "slow-played" so far this spring, will also throw.
"Just getting those guys acclimated to seeing hitters," pitching coach Rick Adair said of the schedule, which is slightly different with a longer camp due to the World Baseball Classic.
"If we had started on schedule, and we started on Day 1 with the rotation, there was a chance that somebody could have had eight starts down here. We're trying to stay away from that."
While most of those pitchers have been through the rigors of a regular Major League camp, Gonzalez wasn't signed until March and was in Minor League Spring Training when he joined the organization.
"There's two sides of [slowing Gonzalez down]," Showalter said. "One, we want to monitor his innings here, but at the same time, let him go through this. He will get plenty of innings over here."
Gonzalez, who didn't pitch in winter ball and declined an invitation to play for Team Mexico in the Classic, will be part of the Opening Day rotation, and his rise to success has been a model for Showalter to point to.
"We've used him as an example to a lot of the guys in this camp," Showalter said of the 28-year-old Gonzalez, who went 9-4 with a 3.25 ERA in 18 games (15 starts) his rookie year. "[Rick Peterson] and [Ron] Johnson are going to do it down in Twin Lakes. Here's an example of a guy who was on a Double-A field last year. I remember the conversation one time, we were going, 'What do we really got here? Do we have a spot for this guy?' And we had some people, it's part of the history now, step up and said they liked his command of the ball. We also had a scout, Fred Ferreira, who had seen him in Mexico and really liked him. So we extended the rope with him."
Brittany Ghiroli is a reporter for MLB.com. Read her blog, Britt's Bird Watch, and follow her on Twitter @britt_ghiroli. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.