3/14/2013 1:01 P.M. ET
McCutchen experimenting with new delivery
By Paul Casella / MLB.com
SARASOTA, Fla. -- Following right-hander Daniel McCutchen's most recent outing last Thursday, the coaching staff approached him with an intriguing idea -- revamp his entire delivery.
Instead of the traditional over-the-top throwing motion he has used his entire career, they wanted the 30-year-old reliever to drop his arm slot lower. McCutchen, a non-roster invite, tested out the delivery -- an almost three-quarters style motion -- for the first time in Tuesday's intrasquad game.
He hit one batter, walked another and threw a wild pitch, but that's almost to be expected when debuting a new delivery designed to produce more movement on his pitches.
"I tried it out and I like it so far," McCutchen said. "I'm getting a lot of movement on the ball. It feels pretty natural. I'm still in the early stages of it, but we talked about it and I said I'd give it a try. I've been excited about it so far."
The move is a surprise of sorts, considering McCutchen had turned in three consecutive scoreless appearances to start the spring before allowing five runs on seven hits in 1 2/3 innings last Thursday.
He's also proven to be a capable reliever at times throughout his career. In 2011, McCutchen spent the entire season in the Majors, going 5-3 with a 3.72 ERA in 73 appearances for the Pirates. He returned to Triple-A Indianapolis last season, but turned in a solid 2.89 ERA to go along with a 7-2 record in 37 outings.
"It's not like I'm struggling and have to make a change," McCutchen said. "But it's just something that I really think can take me up to the next level where I can stop being the fringe Triple-A/big league guy. That's what everyone in Triple-A wants to have -- a solidified spot in the big leagues. We'll see if this can be my niche."
McCutchen plans to continue developing the revamped delivery Thursday in a bullpen session and -- assuming all goes well -- could put it on display in game action as soon as this weekend. The final decision on when he'll take the mound in a Grapefruit League game will come from pitching coach Rick Adair.
"He's got great make-up, that's obvious," manager Buck Showalter said. "He's kind of like R.A. Dickey [developing the knuckleball] -- he's looking for a new weapon, a new toy so to speak. And he's got all of the attributes you look for in a guy that can do that."
Wada taking next step in rehab
SARASOTA, Fla. -- Left-hander Tsuyoshi Wada, after tossing another encouraging bullpen session on Thursday, will now move on to more pitching-related activities as he continues his extensive rehab from Tommy John surgery last May.
Or, as manager Buck Showalter put it, he's ready to "progress to baseball functionability."
"It's exciting watching him throw," Showalter said. "It's a lot of work on his part. Now we move on to the next part of it and that's the baseball part of it -- locating his pitches, spinning the ball.
"Now it's about 'I'm working on something that helps me get people out,' as opposed to 'Am I healthy?'"
Wada, signed to a two-year, $8.15 million deal last offseason, made just one appearance at Triple-A Norfolk in 2012 before elbow issues abruptly ended his debut season. The 30-year-old had previously pitched professionally in Japan, totaling a 57-37 record with a 2.94 ERA in five seasons with the Fukuoka Softbank Hawks.
With Wada's latest progressions, the Orioles remain hopeful the southpaw will be able to return by the end of May.
"It's exciting for everybody," Showalter said. "He can help us."
• Prior to Thursday's game, the Orioles trimmed their Spring Training roster, re-assigning catcher Jose Gil and infielder Niuman Romero to Minor League camp.
With the moves, the Orioles have 51 players remaining in camp.
Gil, who spent all of last season in the Yankees' farm system, went hitless in 10 at-bats this spring. The backstop hit .213 with six homers and 32 RBIs with the Double-A Trenton Thunder last season.
As for Niuman, he returns to the Minors after collecting a respectable four hits in 11 at-bats this spring for a .364 average. Niuman signed with the Orioles this offseason after hitting .300 with nine homers and 67 RBIs in 135 games with the Erie SeaWolves, Detroit's Double-A affiliate.