While the Orioles continue their search for another starter, they’re placing a lot of faith in new pitching coach Dave Wallace and bullpen coach Dom Chiti.
Last week’s mini-camp was mostly set up to give Wallace and Chiti a head start at getting acquainted with their pitchers. They spent four days in Sarasota meeting individually with each one, then flew to California and sat down with a group that included Chris Tillman, Zach Britton, Miguel Gonzalez and Brian Matusz.
So far, the reviews have been quite positive.
Are they an adequate substitute for signing a veteran innings-eater to pair with Tillman at the top of the rotation? I wouldn’t go that far. But Wallace and Chiti have made a favorable early impression.
Josh Stinson says:
“I met them the first day. Just kind of getting to know them, which was good. I think everybody has the feeling that it’s kind of a clean slate. New impressions, you know? The saying always goes that the first impression goes a long way. Both of them seem very knowledgeable, and obviously the amount of years they have in baseball.
“They pretty much said they’re here for us. Just to sit down and try to find out our strengths and our weaknesses. Obviously, they haven’t seen a lot of us, but one of the questions asked was, ‘When I get in trouble, what’s one of the things that I do?’ A lot of us, it’s the front side (flying open), so just tell them that. It’s something for them to watch for. And just to get to know them.
“Anytime you get that 0-2 pitch and you try to make it nastier than the pitch before, it can happen. It’s them trying to figure out your strengths and weaknesses and getting to know each other. It went real well.”
Steve Johnson says:
“We had a meeting, just kind of discussing where I am and trying to get an idea what type of pitcher I am. Just talking to them. It was nice to kind of get a fresh start. You get some new eyes on you. They watched me throw my light bullpen. It seemed like they have, I guess, a good read on what they want to do. Just trying to get to know guys. Not offering too many tips right now.
“I think they want to see people throw and see what they can do. I think as a pitcher you don’t want guys coming in and changing everything when they first see you. It shows a lot that they want to see how you do your own thing and then maybe work off of that. I know that means a lot to me.
“It was good to get that first meeting and just kind of break the ice and get an understanding right away.”
Kevin Gausman says:
“It was great. We just had a quick conversation. It was kind of like an interview process. They just wanted to get to know us and what makes us tick. They asked me a great question that I don’t think anyone’s asked me: ‘What can we do to help you get better?’ It kind of took me a little bit to think about, but it was just good to be in there and talk to them. They seem really laid back. I feel like you can go to them and talk about anything. Not only pitching, but just anything.
“They’ve been around the game for so long and they’ve had so many young pitchers that they’ve kind of developed, so that’s cool for me and (Dylan) Bundy and (Hunter) Harvey, too, I’m sure. It’s exciting for all of us.
“I just said like, ‘Just kind of push me. I’m going to pick your brain and I’ll probably get a little bit annoying eventually, because that’s just how I am.’ I like to pick people’s brains, and I think some of the guys last year got a little bit tired of me doing that. And I just told them to get on me if they have to. I’m a pretty coachable guy, so anything you say to me, I’m going to consider. I’ll do anything.”
Liam Hendriks says:
“We’ll see how it goes with Dom and Dave. They’re new to the organization, so it’s fresh eyes and that will be a good thing for me.”
Yes, fresh eyes. Has anyone come up with a T-shirt? What’s the holdup?
Johnson said “new eyes,” but I’m sure he meant “fresh.” Unless he’s got his own T-shirt ideas.
Anyway, the Orioles retain interest in Bronson Arroyo. The issue is probably his desire for a three-year deal when he turns 37 in February.
Would you do it?
Arroyo won’t cost a first-round pick. Neither will Matt Garza, but he wants a longer commitment than Arroyo, and we’ve gone over the Orioles’ aversion to four- and five-year deals for free agent pitchers.
Will those demands be lowered as they remain on the market? We’ll see.
Check out all of the starters who haven’t been signed. The list comes courtesy of MLBTradeRumors.com:
Bronson Arroyo (37)
Scott Baker (32)
Erik Bedard (35)
A.J. Burnett (37)
Chris Capuano (35)
Bruce Chen (37)
Freddy Garcia (37)
Jon Garland (34)
Matt Garza (30)
Chad Gaudin (31)
Jason Hammel (31)
Tommy Hanson (27)
Aaron Harang (36)
Ubaldo Jimenez (30)
Jair Jurrjens (28)
Jeff Karstens (31)
Paul Maholm (32)
Jason Marquis (35)
Daisuke Matsuzaka (33)
James McDonald (29)
Jeff Niemann (31)
Roy Oswalt (35)
Clayton Richard (30)
Ervin Santana (31)
Johan Santana (34)
Joe Saunders (33)
Masahiro Tanaka (25)
Jake Westbrook (36)
Jerome Williams (32)
Suk-Min Yoon (27)
Barry Zito (36)