By Dan Connolly
The Baltimore Sun
4:00 AM PDT, August 29, 2012
Orioles executive vice president Dan Duquette is not going to comment on the signing of left-handed veteran Randy Wolf, at least not until it becomes official.
“We like him for the team,” Duquette said Tuesday, though that’s as specific as he’ll get before an announcement is official.
That likely will be sometime between today – Wolf is expected to arrive in Baltimore on Wednesday – and Aug. 31, when players need to be in the organization to be eligible for postseason rosters.
Wolf, 36, is expected to be put on the 25-man roster when he signs.
And I’m sure there are plenty of you wondering why.
Why would they grab another starter right before rosters expand? Especially considering they have plenty of rotation candidates here outside of their rotation (Steve Johnson, Brian Matusz) and several in the minors (Jake Arrieta, Tommy Hunter, heck, even rotation longshot, 19-year-old Dylan Bundy).
And why would they want a guy who was cut by the Milwaukee Brewers after a woeful season in the National League Central (Wolf was 3-9 with a 5.69 ERA in 25 games, 24 starts)?
Well, because they don’t see him as a starter, even though Orioles manager Buck Showalter said Wolf could start or relieve. And sure he could start – he has almost exclusively in a 14-season career.
But right now, the Orioles believe Wolf may be able to help in the bullpen.
And from what I am hearing, he is amenable to that concept. In fact, he is supposed to meet with some Orioles staffers – including pitching coach Rick Adair and pitching development director Rick Peterson – and talk about how to make an effective transition.
Likely he’ll shelve a couple of his pitches and just concentrate on the essentials to get hitters out.
Wolf has thrown 371 games in his career; 366 starts. In an exceptionally small sample size, he has allowed six earned runs while allowing 10 hits, three walks and striking out 11 in nine innings (6.00 ERA) in five games as a reliever.
One of those came this July against Houston, when he allowed one run in two innings. His other relief stints: three in 2001 and one in 1999.
And he’s not really a matchup guys for lefty hitters. In his career, here are his slash splits:
Vs. lefties: .235 average/.306 on-base/.402 slugging
Vs. right-handed hitters: .264/.332/.432.
But the Orioles and Duquette have not been scared about trying to reinvent a veteran. They saw Dontrelle Willis as a potential lefty specialist this spring.
Duquette’s not afraid to experiment and see if something works. When J.C. Romero didn’t cut it earlier this month, the Orioles simply let him go. Duquette doesn’t get married to his experiments.
And, frankly, many of them have worked. Looks like Wolf will be another.
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