Urrutia impressing in small sample with O's
Cuban outfielder seeing action as designated hitter against righties
KANSAS CITY -- Orioles outfielder Henry Urrutia collected his first Major League hit in his debut last Friday, but the 26-year-old Cuban didn't keep the ball. Instead, he gave it to a close friend who helped him finally get to the United States in February.
Urrutia, who wouldn't divulge the recipient's name, has impressed teammates and the coaching staff with his mature approach at the plate in his first week. And with the Orioles in the midst of a four-game stretch against right-handed starters, he's gotten an opportunity to get some consistent at-bats.
"He doesn't look out of place at all," manager Buck Showalter said of Urrutia, who entered Thursday's game 5-for-16 with two RBIs. "[Triple-A Norfolk manager] Ron Johnson had a great description he said, 'He fills up the batter's box.' You look forward to seeing him hit. I think as he gets his feet more on the ground, I think he's going to be a contributor for us. He handles himself well. Some new things for him, one pinch-hitting some and two, DH'ing is probably a little new to him."
While Showalter wouldn't rule out using Urrutia in the outfield, the skipper said there are no immediate plans for Urrutia to get a start in the field, citing the DH role as the thing that "best fits" the club right now.
Urrutia has been accompanied by Minor League instructor Ramon Sambo -- who has served as a translator on the team's road trip -- and said his early experiences in the Orioles' clubhouse has him already feeling "like family" among his new teammates.
As for his approach at the plate, Urrutia said, "It's something I have been working on. To try to calm down. I am anxious and still trying to prove what I can do. I'm aggressive, but I'm trying to be patient. I've been working really hard on going up there with no plan. Sometimes with a plan, but able to change it depending on what [pitchers] do."
Wada still working his way back at Triple-A
KANSAS CITY -- Orioles pitcher Tsuyoshi Wada continues to search for some consistency with Triple-A Norfolk as the lefty, who had Tommy John surgery in May 2012, failed to complete five innings on Thursday.
Signed to a two-year, $8.15 million contract in December 2011, Wada has yet to throw a pitch for Baltimore. In 13 starts for Norfolk, he is 2-5 with a 5.54 ERA, allowing 44 runs (40 earned) on 75 hits and 26 walks over 65 innings. He also had 51 strikeouts.
"Sometimes it takes extra time," Orioles manager Buck Showalter said of Wada, who was optioned to Norfolk after coming off the 60-day disabled list and completing his rehab assignment. "There's a chance that somebody, us or somebody else, I don't know what the offseason brings. But I don't have any doubt at some point, he's going to get back to that form. So, who knows when he gets all the way back?
"It's not at all physical pain, you just get a little fearful of the barrel of the bat. You try to be a little too fine because you know you're not carrying all your bullets. It's normal for a guy who has good command to start to have some walk issues."
Wada issued five walks on Thursday and will remain a starter at Norfolk with no immediate plans to see what he can do in short stints out of the bullpen.
"As long as it takes him to get ready and the physical part of it, [he] couldn't pitch back-to-back days and things like that," Showalter said. "I don't see it."
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.