For Orioles right-hander Kevin Gausman, it appears the proverbial handcuffs are off.
Meaning that the Orioles are no longer working to limit his innings for the 2014 season. Gausman has pitched 76 2/3 innings this year between Triple-A and the majors. Now the Orioles seem set to turn the kid loose beginning with his start here on Sunday Night Baseball against the Yankees.
"Yeah, that would be great," Gausman said this afternoon. "I feel like ever since I first got drafted there was all this innings talk. I want to get to 180 this year, 175, somewhere around there. If I get there that means we went deep in the year and that sets me up for next year. To possibly go 200, 210 which is what you want as a starter.
"I would say my goal is 180. Because I feel healthy, I feel good. Obviously it is going to depend on the rest of the season and if I'm up here to stay. But 180 is a big number for me," he said.
Gausman was all set to be pitching for Triple-A Norfolk on Sunday but then he found out there was an injury to Ubaldo Jimenez and those plans changed.
"This was probably the most surprising (callup) of all of them this year. With the break coming I didn't really know anything and all the sudden I get a call from Dave (Wallace) and he said, 'Could you throw tomorrow if need be?' I said yeah, I feel fine and I can throw whenever and found out an hour later I was coming up.
"This is going to be fun. Anytime you play the Yankees here it is always fun. I'm sure the place is going to be packed tonight and tomorrow. Just try to kind of end things on a positive note this first half."
Gausman's stay in Norfolk this time was brief. Just two days.
"Just enough time to do laundry," he said laughing.
Gausman is 3-2 with a 3.51 ERA over six starts for the Orioles. In 33 1/3 innings he has walked 13 and fanned 24 and allowed a .252 batting average against.
For tonight's game he is actually on the taxi squad. That means he can be here but he's not yet officially on the active roster. He can't watch the game from the dugout. He's been here before as a taxi squad player. Sometimes a player in that situation never makes it to the roster but Gausman will surely do that tomorrow night.
"I just got used to it. I usually just sit in the video room and watch the game with those guys and ask questions about their lineup. Definitely use to it. Done it about four times now," he said.
Now Gausman is ready to be a regular part of the O's rotation. Everything appears to be headed that way where he could be getting the ball to start every fifth day throughout the second half.
"Anytime you are here for an extended amount of time it's good. Just another opportunity to pitch well and try to keep us rolling. If we can win these next two games it would be pretty huge going into the second half," he said.
Meanwhile, catcher Steve Clevenger returned to the Orioles today and was recalled from Triple-A Norfolk. He found out in the third inning of Game 2 of Norfolk's doubleheader last night that he had to head to Baltimore.
He was optioned to Triple-A on May 27.
"It is always tough whenever you get sent down. You play with a chip on your shoulder. Go down, do the best you can do and just keep grinding it out," Clevenger said.
He sure did that, working on his offense and defense with the Tides. In 36 games with Norfolk he hit .328 with two homers, 26 RBIs and an OPS of .836. He hit .343 against right-handed pitching and could help the O's out as a pinch-hitter if he does not get any starts.
"I've been swinging the bat really well down there," he said. "I went down and worked on my catching more. Just working on throwing and getting the exchange down a little bit. Had some throwing success down there and hopefully it can continue here," Clevenger said.