Don’t be fooled by the smile.
Logan Gillaspie knows when it’s appropriate to be a nice guy. Like, for instance, when teammates, club employees and reporters walk over to his locker. When he’s around his family or is approached by a fan.
Pretty much anytime except when he’s pitching.
The Orioles recalled Gillaspie from Triple-A Norfolk Monday morning and gave him another chance in their bullpen. They kept him busy after taking him north, with appearances made on March 30 and April 1, 4, 7, 9, 11, 12 and 15.
Gillaspie didn’t allow a run or hit in his first three games over 1 2/3 innings. Four of the next five were harsh, including his final outing in the 10th inning in Chicago. The automatic runner scored, and so did pinch-runner Seby Zavala after back-to-back singles by Jake Burger and Oscar Colás.
No outs recorded. One demotion to Triple-A Norfolk on April 19 to create room for Kyle Bradish on the roster.
Gillaspie earned his locker inside the Orioles clubhouse after allowing one run and striking out seven batters in six innings with Norfolk. And then he vacated it less than 24 hours later when the Orioles optioned him again.
Unpack your bags at your own risk.
What was different with Gillaspie at Norfolk besides the level of competition?
“I would say that I was pitching angrier,” he said. “I think that’s it.”
Gillaspie laughed. He wasn’t agitated with the question. And he knew that his response needed to be flushed out.
Angry about not having as much success with the Orioles?
“No,” he replied. “I was just trying to do the best that I could, and the more mad I was pitching, the better I was pitching. So, I’m going to try to do that the next time I pitch here and see how it goes.”
It didn’t go well, but Gillaspie will return at some point over the summer. He’s a shuttle guy.
Gillaspie would have to break character again. The anger doesn’t come naturally. He always seems to be in a good mood.
“I just go with the flow, but I try to pick out stuff that the hitter is doing that I don’t like,” Gillaspie said. “Like, if he’s just watching me pitch, I’m like, ‘Why are you watching me pitch?’ And then just finding little things to fuel me.”
The return wasn’t triumphant Monday. Gillaspie replaced starter Grayson Rodriguez in the fourth, let an inherited runner score, and was charged with his own run in the fifth. He allowed four hits and walked a batter in 1 2/3.
Gillaspie was the last of eight pitchers used Saturday in Jacksonville. Starter Noah Denoyer was working on short rest and limited to one inning. Manager Buck Britton went with a bullpen game, with none of the relievers going more than 1 2/3.
“I don’t know why,” Gillaspie said, laughing.
Saving his bad mood for the mound.
* Shohei Ohtani was more beast at the plate than on the mound Monday, but he held the Orioles to four hits in seven innings. The three home runs raised his career total to six against the Orioles in two starts.
Gunnar Henderson settled for a line drive single in the second inning, pulling a 98 mph fastball into right field. He struck out after chasing a high fastball from Chris Devenski to strand two runners in the eighth and slammed his bat to the ground.
A frustrating finish to his night, but Henderson has a hit in four consecutive games, including two doubles and home run, and is making much harder contact of late. Last night's leadoff double in the fourth was another high-90s shot.
“I think his at-bats have gotten better the last few days,” said manager Brandon Hyde. “I like how he’s more aggressive early in the count on pitches he can drive. Just missed a few, also, but I think the quality of the at-bats has been better.”
* Ryan O'Hearn and Ryan Mountcastle homered from the No. 9 spot in the lineup last night. A rare occurrence in club history, as it turns out.
This is the fifth time that it's happened and the first since catchers Chris Hoiles and Jeff Tackett on April 18, 1992 against the Tigers, according to STATS.
You know that I want the rest of the list.
Mike Hart and Fred Lynn did it on Aug. 28, 1987 against the Angels. Lenn Sakata and Floyd Rayford did it on July 24, 1982 against the Athletics. Milt Pappas and Russ Snyder did it on April 29, 1962 versus the Kansas City Athletics.
The more you know ...
* I checked on Zac Lowther a few days ago and wrote about his recovery from a left shoulder impingement and clearance to begin facing hitters this week down in Sarasota.
Lowther has company at the complex. He’s in a group that’s rehabbing from injuries and, in some cases, surgeries.
The highest profile belongs to John Means, the staff ace who underwent Tommy John surgery in April 2022. The Orioles are counting on his return in July.
Not to be forgotten is left-hander Trey McGough, chosen in the second round of the Triple-A phase of December’s Rule 5 draft.
McGough was an interesting pick because he attended Mount St. Mary’s in Emmitsburg, Md. Who doesn’t love a local angle? And we learned later that he’s also recovering from Tommy John surgery.
“He’s on the mound now,” Lowther said. “A lot of guys in early stages of just getting back to non-scripted throwing.”
Seth Johnson also is a member of the elbow reconstructive club. He underwent the procedure on Aug. 3 in Dallas, just two days after the Orioles acquired him from the Rays in a three-team deadline deal involving first baseman Trey Mancini.
MLB Pipeline ranks Johnson as the No. 15 prospect in the system.
“He’s just been throwing,” Lowther said. “He’s fun to play catch with.”