SARASOTA, Fla. -- Wearing an Orioles' poncho, pitcher Tsuyoshi Wada was feeling good about Wednesday afternoon's bullpen session, joking with reporters as he relayed through his interpreter that, without a crowd, he was able to relax.
"Compared to Monday, I didn't force it, I didn't force it as much," said Wada -- whose first bullpen attracted a throng of media and manager Buck Showalter -- through translator Seob Yoon. "It was more smooth. It felt good today."
Wada, who is rehabbing from May's Tommy John surgery on his left elbow, will throw another bullpen session on Saturday, and his next step could be pitching in a simulated game after that
"It's the first time I'm going through rehab like this," Wada said. "I haven't thrown a breaking ball yet, so I'm not sure when the sim game is going to be.
"My elbow and overall body-wise, conditioning-wise, I do feel stronger. As time goes by, I feel like I'm going to be able to swing my arms faster, too. Gradually it's going to get better day by day."
Tillman feels good about results of first spring start
SARASOTA, Fla.-- Chris Tillman, making his first spring start after Tuesday's rainout, tossed 1 2/3 scoreless innings against the Red Sox in Wednesday's 5-3 win. He got ahead of six of the eight batters he faced but labored after that and issued a pair of walks, including a two-out free pass to Daniel Nava to end his night.
"First time out, I'm not really disappointed," Tillman said. "I felt OK. Command was spotty, at best. I guess you kind of expect it for first time out. Other than that, I felt pretty good."
Tillman, who is out of options, is projected to be in the rotation. He threw 43 pitches (25 strikes), including a game-opening strikeout of Jacoby Ellsbury.
"I was trying to work on my fastball command early," he said. "That's what it's all about the first time out. Mixed up my pitches. Fastball, changeup are there. Breaking stuff's not where it needs to be right now, but it's typical early in spring."
Manager Buck Showalter has said that it's too early to start evaluating players one way or another, and Tillman said he will take advantage of the longer spring and try not to think about it.
"It's all about getting ready for April," he said. "Just try to get my work in. Pitch when I'm told."
Flaherty praised for 'amazing' play at shortstop
TAMPA -- It's not all that unusual, at Steinbrenner Field, to see a shortstop range deep into the hole on his backhand side, scoop the ball and fire a strike to nail the runner at first base. This time, though, it was Ryan Flaherty.
Starting at short for the Orioles on Wednesday afternoon, Flaherty robbed Juan Rivera of a base hit when he made a tremendous play to his right. His off-balance, nearly sidearm throw arced high but still had plenty of juice on it, getting to first base in time to beat the veteran outfielder.
"I saw him get to the ball, and I thought there was a 50-50 chance that he even threw it," said pitcher Jake Arrieta, who benefited from Flaherty's impressive get. "To make an accurate throw, running away from first base, toward the third-base foul line like that is really incredible. I don't know if that play will be appreciated as much as it should, because that's a pretty amazing play he made."
Flaherty acknowledged that the play could have gone wrong.
"I just let it fly and got lucky that it landed in the mitt," he said. "It could have ended up in the seats pretty easily."
Arrieta gets mixed results from aggressiveness
TAMPA -- It's hard to know whether Jake Arrieta helped or hurt himself Wednesday in his quest for a job in the Orioles' starting rotation. He was charged with three runs in 1 2/3 innings, he walked two and didn't record a strikeout. But he also got four ground-ball outs, and in fact every ball the Yankees put in play against him was on the ground.
Arrieta needed 38 pitches to get five outs, and he was aided by a slick defensive play from Ryan Flaherty. But then again, it's not like the hits were crushed.
"I was in some good counts and tried to get a little too aggressive with my fastball, pulled a couple out of the zone," Arrieta said.
"I had really good downhill [motion]. I felt like they were taking some pretty weak swings."
Fortunately, or unfortunately, for Arrieta, manager Buck Showalter insists he's just not paying that much attention to results at this point. Showalter wants the contenders -- Arrieta, Brian Matusz, Zach Britton, Steve Johnson, Tommy Hunter, and perhaps others -- to concentrate on the process. Get ready, make your pitches, and he'll start thinking about the competition later in spring.
It's still February, after all.
"Because of the [World Baseball Classic] and the schedule," Showalter said, "we've got plenty of time. ... I know there's going to come a day when we're going to have to start showing our hand a little bit. I'm OK with that. I could do it right now, but it's not fair to them, and things change."
Ripken to throw first pitch, sign book on March 7
SARASOTA, Fla. -- Hall of Famer Cal Ripken, Jr. will throw out the ceremonial first pitch at Ed Smith Stadium on March 7 for the Orioles' game against the Toronto Blue Jays.
He will also sign copies of his new children's book, "Wild Pitch," on the lower concourse from 2-4 p.m. ET. The visit is part of a national book tour for "Wild Pitch," the third installment in the New York Times best-selling "Cal Ripken, Jr.'s All-Stars" series.
Tickets for the Orioles-Blue Jays game are still available and can be purchased at the ballpark, via orioles.com/spring or by phone at 877-222-2802.
Copies of the book will be available for purchase at the game and will cost $16.99.
Brittany Ghiroli is a reporter for MLB.com. Read her blog, Britt's Bird Watch, and follow her on Twitter @britt_ghiroli. Matthew Leach is a writer for MLB.com. Read his blog, Obviously, You're Not a Golfer and follow him on Twitter at @MatthewHLeach. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.