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Mike Wright Looking To Prove He Belongs In Orioles' Rotation

February 23, 2018
SARASOTA, Fla. -- Mike Wright is facing a crucial spring.  

Believe it or not, the 28-year-old right-hander has been with the Baltimore Orioles' organization longer than nearly all the other players in the clubhouse.
 
Wright, who has pitched for the Orioles in parts of the last three seasons, was drafted during the third round in June 2011 and faces a pivotal time in his career.
 
"Absolutely, there's nowhere to be optioned to," Wright said. "I'm out of options. It's either here or home. It's kind of do-or-die."
 
Since making his major league debut in May 2015, Wright is 6-9 with a 5.86 ERA in 43 games, 21 starts.

There's a spot in the starting rotation that's Wright's to land if he performs well this spring. If he doesn't make the Orioles, they would have to expose him to waivers if they wanted to send him to the minor leagues.
 
"It would be hard to imagine someone not claiming him," manager Buck Showalter said. "We've got him, and we think it's going to be the start of a new career for him. He needs to. … It's time."
 
Showalter chose Wright to start the Grapefruit League opener Feb. 23, and he allowed one run on one hit and a walk in two innings. His first batter, Tampa Bay's Micah Johnson, extended the at-bat to 12 pitches before drawing a walk.
 
For the past few winters, Wright has worked with Orioles vice president of baseball operations Brady Anderson in Southern California, and this winter he worked longer and harder.
 
"I stayed out there longer, and we definitely talked about different things," Wright said. "We talked about why it was I was throwing really well last year and I still ended up with a 5 [ERA]. There are certain things [in] the art of pitching I'm going to make an adjustment on and do different things."
 
Wright is featuring a cut fastball this spring because Showalter has recommended he use one to try and get out left-handers.
 
"I need to have something for lefties, and I think that cutter is kind of big," Wright said. "It really complements my sinker." 
 
If Wright isn't the team's fifth starter, he could be in the bullpen. Last season, he appeared in relief in all 13 of his outings. Even though he had a 5.76 ERA, he struck out four times as many batters as he walked.
 
"It's definitely different," Wright says of the bullpen. "You're throwing every day, and you're throwing wide open, and you're used to having those four days of recovery, and then all of a sudden you have four hours of recovery before the next day game you're throwing in.
 
"It definitely takes a toll and it's definitely a different workload on the body. I definitely think I can be prepared for that, but as of right now, I'm trying to get this spot in the rotation."
 
Showalter said he thinks Wright will respond well to his situation.
 
"I found that guys that are out of options, it kind of really works in their favor sometimes," Showalter said. "I saw it with Zach Britton. … I've seen them sometimes real relaxed with it, like 'OK, I'm probably going to be in the big leagues this year. I'm finally going to get to know what I've been wondering about."

Follow Rich on Twitter @RichDubroffMLB 

Photo Credit: Kenya Allen/PressBox