A look at a much younger O's 'pen, plus other notes

ARLINGTON, Texas - The Orioles bullpen is in a major transitional phase. No longer are there leaders like Darren O'Day and Zach Britton on the team. And the end-of-the-game trio of Brad Brach, O'Day and Britton have all been traded. Lefty Richard Bleier is injured and will miss the rest of the season.

So what is left?

Givens-Throws-Gray.jpgWell, a bunch 20-somethings with talent and promise who have to do some on-the-job learning and training while pitching in roles they are not accustomed to. Among the eight pitchers in the Orioles bullpen at Globe Life Park Thursday, only one had a save as an Oriole. That was Mychal Givens, who had just one save earlier this year. Miguel Castro had four saves for Toronto, but that was in 2015. We don't even know for sure which pitcher manager Buck Showalter would use if he has a save situation tonight.

Jhan Mariñez is the oldest current member of the 'pen at 29, while Mike Wright Jr. and Givens are 28. Two pitchers out there - Paul Fry and Cody Carroll - made their big league debuts this year. Only Givens is likely to even have enough service time to be arbitration-eligible after this season.

What does Buck Showalter think of this new-look pen?

"I like the exuberance," he said. "One of them beat me here (to the park) today. A couple of them, I love their confidence level, too. That's why they're up here. See Cody (Wednesday at New York). He didn't sit there thinking about pitching in Yankee Stadium and facing their team. Cody faced the top of their order."

Givens has said that if he needs to show some leadership now, he feels ready for that. There's been more torch-passing.

"Being around guys like Darren put me in the best position [along with] Zach Britton and Brad. I wish the best for them. They're in a good spot. At the same time, they passed the torch to me, and I'll try to be a leader now."

Said Showalter of Givens taking a leadership role: "I think that is something you like to see. Guys that learn from their experience. You need to do more than just talk about it. You've got to show it on the field, too," he said.

Tanner Scott has become a more prominent member of this 'pen at age 24, and with just 34 big league games under his belt.

"We've got some younger faces here now, but lost Zach. That's like my big brother. Now our veteran in the bullpen is Givens. Still great. Yeah, I'm excited and everyone is excited to see what we can do with it," Scott said.

Would Scott like a shot to be the closer?

"If the chance is there, why not?" he said.

Tillman's parting words: When the Orioles arrived at Globe Life Park Thursday, right-hander Chris Tillman was there. He was wearing a Texas Rangers shirt after signing a minor league contract with the Rangers yesterday. Tillman will report to their Triple-A Round Rock team. The Orioles offered him a shot to go to their Triple-A Norfolk club before they released him.

Tillman said the Orioles' run of making trades the last two weeks was no surprise.

"I'd say we saw it coming for a while," he said. "We weren't playing to our capabilities, and that goes across the clubhouse. It was time. It's unfortunate, both for the fans and players. I think if we would have played better, then probably that wouldn't have happened. It falls on the players."

The Orioles designated Tillman for assignment on July 20 and released him five days later. Tillman said he had no hard feelings about his how his O's tenure finally ended, just good memories of the good times.

"Not on my side. I didn't pitch all that great. You don't like it, pitch better. That is what I've always said. No hard feelings on my side of it. It was awesome (being an Oriole). I can't say a bad thing about it. Spent a lot of time there and got to know a lot of really good people, and I'm grateful. We had a heck of a run for a quite a few years and it was sure fun while it lasted."

Valencia's strikeout: With the Orioles trailing Texas 17-8 with two on and two outs in the eighth inning last night, Showalter replaced Scott with Danny Valencia. He would become the first Orioles position player to pitch since Ryan Flaherty against Houston on Aug. 20, 2016.

Valencia struck out Joey Gallo looking at 3-2 pitch, which was a 91.3 mph fastball. Valencia's second pitch to Gallo was at 91.7 mph. Who knew he could throw with that velocity? Valencia did, and he said he can throw harder.

"I was definitely not going 100 percent today. There's definitely more in the tank. Today, I was probably pitching around 80 percent. I used to pitch in high school and a little bit in college. In the show? I have no show innings. Now, I have a third, so that's pretty much it."

Valencia tried to fill up the zone against Gallo, and then filled up our notebooks with some pretty solid quotes.

"It was pretty cool," he said. "I've always envisioned going out there on the mound, messing with the pitchers, telling them, 'I hope I get a chance out there.' Felt good. I practice it a lot. You always dream about doing that, but at the same time, Buck came out there and he said, 'Hey, you know, throw strikes. Don't try to overpower anybody,' so I was just really trying to throw it over the plate, not really go max effort out there. Just let it go nice and easy."

Valencia said he told Showalter during the game he was available and very ready to pitch.

"I was like, 'Hey Buck, I just want to let you know, if you need an inning, I got you. Don't hesitate to ask.' Just let him know. Some guys don't want to do it. Help the team, help the bullpen. I made it known early that I'd be willing to throw an inning, two innings if you need it. It went well today."

Valencia doesn't just throw fastballs either.

"Fastball, slider, changeup. Simple three-pitch mix, hit the corners, maybe sink it a little bit."

He went up in the zone to get Gallo for his first major league strikeout.

"I'm thinking I'm trying to strike him out. Just me being competitive. I'm not one of those guys who just lob it over the plate and let them hit it. If he's going to beat me, he's going to beat me with my stuff," Valencia said.

I'm not sure what lasted longer, his outing or his interview. But both were good.

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