Now that Dave Wallace is in place as Orioles pitching coach, he’s started the task of reaching out to his staff.
Wallace told me yesterday that he’s talked to three or four of the Orioles’ pitchers “just briefly to say hello,” and left voicemails for about eight others.
“I haven’t gotten into any discussions about mechanics or abilities or anything like that,” he said. “I’m in the process of talking to Rick Peterson and Mike Griffin, who have had the guys. I’m trying to find out as much as I can.
“(T.J.) McFarland is in winter ball, but I brought up his stats. I talked to (Kevin) Gausman. Dylan Bundy and I played telephone tag. I got hold of Johnson.”
“Jim. The big guy,” Wallace said with a laugh. “I had a nice conversation with him, which was good. He’s a big part of what’s going on moving forward.”
Manager Buck Showalter referenced left-hander Zach Britton a few times while talking about the benefits of having “fresh eyes” with Wallace and new bullpen coach Dom Chiti. Britton is out of options, and the Orioles want him to be the next Chris Tillman instead of Jake Arrieta, who was shipped to the Cubs this summer after failing to establish himself in the majors.
“No. 1, I’ve had the experience of having guys like that before,” said Wallace, who most recently served as the Braves’ minor league pitching coordinator. “No. 2, what you have to do is meet the player and talk to him and get input from his standpoint. What he’s been doing and what he’s working on and what hasn’t been working, and give him some credit to what his thoughts may be and run stuff by him that we may or may not see.
“I’ve got to get in there and spend time and observe and study and get to know their delivery, mechanics, stuff and all that. But more important, get to know what kind of guy he is and what buttons to push and at which times to help out. And I think experience is a factor coming in, where you had so many guys in this situation that maybe you can recall somebody and say, ‘Hey, a couple years ago, one of my pitchers was going through the same thing. Let’s give this a try.’
“It’s always trial and error, and in today’s world, you really have to engage the players. And once they understand that they have a nice avenue of communication, you would hope that bodes well for their development.”
Shameless plug alert: I’m appearing on “Wall to Wall Baseball” from 11 a.m.-noon on MASN. I’ll be tackling the latest rumors and mocking the reports that simply repeat what’s already been written countless times.
It’s my offseason hobby. It’s either this or collecting stamps.