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Wagner has disappointing outing against Orioles

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LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- Neil Wagner's chances of cracking the Opening Day roster took a bit of a hit following Thursday's disappointing outing against the Orioles.

Wagner, one of the surprise storylines in camp, pitched himself into the bullpen mix with several impressive outings in a row.

That streak came to an end against Baltimore, though, as he took the loss after surrendering three runs on two hits and a hit batter in two-thirds of an inning.

"The first two guys easily could have been outs, and then it's a whole new inning," bullpen coach Pat Hentgen said. "Other than that, just like a lot of guys, they overthrow, and ... How do you tell a guy to just click it back, dial it back, pitch at 92, 93 mph and let's hit our spots?

"So that's what I think Wagner could learn from -- the fact that it's not about how hard you throw, it's where you throw it. That's a hard thing to tell a young pitcher."

Wagner has the ability to pitch in the upper-90s, but control within the strike zone has been a bit of an issue in the past. Until Thursday, though, it hadn't been a problem this spring, and the hope is that the trend won't continue.

The 27-year-old remains a dark-horse candidate to crack the 25-man roster. He faces stiff competition from the likes of Brad Lincoln, Aaron Loup, J.A. Happ, Jeremy Jeffress and Dave Bush, but he still has plenty of time in camp to showcase his abilities.

"You can't let one inning sway you," manager John Gibbons said. "He has pitched very good. We'll see, there is still a lot of time left. It's going to be a tough decision, we figure."

Gregor Chisholm is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, North of the Border, and follow him on Twitter @gregorMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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