Gausman: “A lot of things to be thankful for in my life right now”

SARASOTA, Fla. - The Orioles made Kevin Gausman the fourth overall selection in the 2012 draft, one year after they used the fourth pick on Dylan Bundy.

Now, they’ve made Gausman and Bundy the top two pitchers on their staff.

Gausman, out of LSU, starts on opening day with Chris Tillman headed to the disabled list. Bundy, out of Owasso High School in Oklahoma, takes the mound for the second game.

“Bundy told me that yesterday, so I was pretty pumped,” Gausman said. “Happy for him. He’s had a great spring and he had a great year last year, too. Looking forward to him just being healthy, being out there getting those reps, being a starter from the get-go this year. I’m looking for him to make some huge strides. Pitching second day, second year really in the big leagues and you’re starting the second day of the season. That’s pretty cool.

kevin-gausman-orange-close.jpg“We talked about it a little bit. We’re both pretty pumped.”

Gausman breaks Tillman’s streak of starting three consecutive openers. Tillman will go on the disabled list after dealing with shoulder discomfort for much of the spring.

“He hasn’t talked to me about it,” Gausman said. “I’m sure I’ll talk to him about what to expect. If I need to change my pregame routine for any ceremony or anything like that. But just obviously very happy. Happy for my family. I know that they’ll be there, so it’s going to be fun.

“I think I’ll be pretty amped up. It’ll probably be the hardest I’ve thrown since last year. That’s one of those things you’ve got to kind of feed off it. It’s opening day. Sometimes in the regular season you’ve got to calm yourself down, but opening day, throw all your cards on the table and here we go.”

Gausman said manager Buck Showalter told him about the assignment two days ago. He had an inkling.

“Really it was kind of trying to piece it together,” he said. “Thought I might have a chance obviously with Tilly out. That’s one thing. If Chris is healthy right now, it’s his game to start. But happy, excited. A lot of things to be thankful for in my life right now. Obviously, an exciting time for my family and obviously looking forward to it.

“Not so much nervous, just anxious. I know it’s going to be awesome. I love pitching in Baltimore, so happy that it’s at home. Hopefully the first of many, but like I said, pretty exciting and definitely looking forward to it. I think it’s going to be a lot of fun.”

Gausman noticed how he lined up this spring, the dates that he pitched and how it led him to the April 3 opener.

“That’s kind of what I told Buck,” Gausman said. “He asked me, ‘What did you think about this? Did you see this coming?’ I was like, ‘Well, I’m not that bad at math. I can figure that out.’

“Really my last one was when I was like, ‘If I stay on pace, I think April 3 will be the day.’ But yeah, you never know. You can never try to figure out what’s going to happen before it happens. I didn’t want to get myself too amped up for it and then be disappointed.

“Very honored. I think it’s something special. There’s not many people who can say they started opening day, so very happy.”

Showalter tossed Gausman the ultimate compliment, referring to him today as “trustworthy.”

“I think that’s the biggest thing you want,” Gausman said. “You want your manager to have trust in you. Really, you want everybody on the field to have trust in you and I think that’s one thing you notice when Tilly pitches is the team behind him feels very confident and trusts that he’s going to pitch a great game every fifth day. So that’s obviously huge praise coming from him. But just look to continue to grow and try to be more consistent.”

It happened for Gausman in the second half last season, when he posted a 3.10 ERA in 15 starts, including a 2.45 ERA in six August outings, and continued this spring.

“I feel good,” he said. “The biggest thing I did in the second half was get deep in games, which really is all you can try to do. I felt like I was more consistent like that in the second half and just kind of feel like I hit the ground running this year so far.

“I felt good in the spring, throwing the ball well, throwing a lot of strikes. So, happy with where I’m at right now.”

And where he will be on opening day.

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