One of the primary reasons that pitcher Justin Duchscherer chose the Orioles over the Nationals and the other teams interested in signing him was their “serious commitment to winning,” according to his agent, Damon Lapa of All Bases Covered Sports Management.
“And there’s also the fact that the club, at least on paper, has become a formidable lineup,” Lapa said. “Any pitcher wants to end up on a team and in a city that can score runs and has veterans behind him and plays good defense. We hope that equates to success on the mound for Justin.”
So much for the stigma of 13 straight losing seasons and the fear of pitching in the American League East.
“Justin brought the mentality that if he’s healthy and on his game, those are factors that don’t necessarily filter into the equation, so to speak,” Lapa said. “He feels that he can compete anywhere he is as long as he’s healthy. And he realized that the structure of his contract would protect both parties. If he’s hit with the injury bug again, the protection’s there for the club. But if he’s capable of pitching like he can over the entire course of the season, there’s a good bit of money in his pocket, but also still good value for the club.”
Duchscherer underwent another hip surgery last summer, but he impressed during Friday’s side session in Arizona. The Orioles and one other team were in attendance as Duchscherer threw all four of his pitches and, according to Lapa, hit 86-87 on the radar gun.
“He was throwing harder than he threw at any point in the majors last year,” Lapa said.
“I think he’s all the way back. Right now, he’s far ahead - in the estimation not only of the Orioles, but the other clubs - of where any club would expect any pitcher to be at the end of January. He was throwing his breaking ball, slider, cutters, his fastball. With the season not starting until April 1 and (exhibition) games not starting until March 1, for the sake of argument, if you took a guy who’s been healthy, he’s probably not as far along as Justin is right now.”
Lapa prepared Duchscherer for an extended wait before signing, knowing the hip needed time to heal and his client needed to begin a “measured and regimented throwing program.” It also allowed Duchscherer to gain “15 pounds of muscle,” which Lapa credits for the increased velocity.
“If the right opportunity had presented itself before now, we certainly were open to it, but we felt that once Justin was on a mound and could show that he was healthy and show all four pitches, as well as his improved velocity, clubs would feel much more confident and make more solid or lucrative proposals.”
He sure convinced the Orioles.
The results of Duchscherer’s physical should come back Thursday or Friday, at which time the Orioles will comment on his signing.