SARASOTA, Fla. — Jake Thompson said the right wrist that sidelined him during spring training felt fine after he pitched 2.1 innings of Thursday night’s 2-2 Grapefruit League tie with Baltimore at Ed Smith Stadium.
It was the righthander’s first game action in six months. Thompson, 23, said he injured the wrist when he fell during a workout just before camp. Thompson didn’t think anything of the injury. Then it was swollen 45 minutes later. Thompson struck out two batters without allowing a baserunner.
“I felt good, I felt healthy,” Thompson said. “It was a pretty good one to work off of.”
Thompson spent the final two months of last season in the big leagues, with a 5.70 ERA in 10 starts. He will begin the season at triple A in a rotation expected to include righthanders Mark Appel, Zach Eflin, Ben Lively, and Nick Pivetta. Eflin has yet to pitch this spring as he deals with knee soreness. Thompson expects to be ready for the IronPigs opener on April 6.
“It could be really good,” Thompson said about the team’s rotation. “Obviously, during the season there’s going to be some guys up and down. There could be a lot of movement. But it’s definitely going to be really talented.”
Vince Velasquez did not allow a hit Thursday night, but he did walk four batters and throw a wild pitch as he worked up a high pitch count in his third start of spring training. Velasquez threw 76 pitches, 39 of which were strikes in just 32/3 innings. He struck out six. The righthander showed last season that he has an electric arm, but too often he was plagued by high pitch counts.
“I don’t want to be labeled as that person,” Velasquez said. “But again, you’re going to come across that same road like last year. I want to prevent that as much as possible. This is one of the outings where you can really learn from this. I’m glad it happened to me. My stuff wasn’t really as electric locating-wise, but again I had to make pitches. I had to use my change-up to get outs.”
Velasquez needed 27 pitches to escape the first inning, which ended with the bases loaded after three walks. He struck out Chris Davis and Mark Trumbo — two of Baltimore’s top hitters — after putting runners on second and third. He struck out Davis again in the third and was pulled in the fourth after consecutive strikeouts. Even with the walks, Velasquez was dominant.
“I could really take this and keep this under my hat. Apply it later on down the road, whenever I hit that bump again. Because I know, everyone has their ups and downs,” Velasquez said. “I had it last year, and I’ve got to do my best to prevent it. This was a good learning experience and keep it under my hat for the next outing.”