It's not often you hear a player with major league experience say going back to Triple-A was a good move for them, but pitcher Rick VandenHurk of the Orioles feels that way.
VandenHurk was designated for assignment and removed from the 40-man roster late in spring training. He has spent all year with Triple-A Norfolk and rejoined the O's today as a September call-up.
VandenHurk said it was not tough to have a good attitude pitching this year for Norfolk, where he went 9-13 with a 4.43 ERA over 26 starts and 154 1/3 innings. He walked 40 with 108 strikeouts and .239 batting average against.
"It's really not," he said. "I got designated for a reason. I wasn't pitching well in spring training, so you know you have to work on some stuff to get back here.
"If it takes a month, if it takes four months, it doesn't matter. You have to get back to where you can pitch in the big leagues and early in the year I definitely wasn't there. It's part of becoming an all-around pitcher."
The 26-year-old righty, who was 0-1 with a 4.96 ERA in seven games last season with the O's, said he embraced the chance to try and work on his game at Triple-A.
"I think it was really good for me," VandenHurk said this morning in the Orioles' clubhouse. "Just figuring out some stuff and learning a lot about myself. I am here again and very happy for this opportunity.
"It was a little bit of everything. Just becoming a complete pitcher and getting experience and just being out there every five days. Learning how to pitch deep in games and deal with certain situations. This is the first year I stayed in one place for the whole season and I think it was really, really good for me. I learned a lot and took a lot out of it. Getting called up was icing on the cake."
In five August starts for Norfolk, he went 3-0 with a 3.00 ERA and, over his last three starts, he pitched 19 innings and allowed 11 hits and just two runs with three walks to 23 strikeouts.
"Compared to other starts, I was able to limit the damage (in the last few starts)," VandenHurk said. "Also, the angle on my pitches got better toward the end of the year. Staying on top of my pitches where I would create the angle with my height. Earlier in the year, I wasn't doing that and my stuff was more flat."