Eveland hoping to plant roots and bury the starter competition

SARASOTA, Fla. - Dana Eveland isn’t known for bringing the heat, so he might want to join a different group when throwing a bullpen session in spring training.

Eveland stood next to reliever Matt Lindstrom earlier today. Lindstrom almost knocked the mitt off catcher John Hester’s hand. Eveland appeared to be soft-tossing by comparison.

That’s OK. Eveland is more about location anyway, and he looked pretty good today.

Eveland has relocated to the Orioles, his seventh team since breaking into the majors in 2005. He’s out of options and hoping that he’s not on the outside when manager Buck Showalter makes the final decisions on the pitching staff.

Eveland could start or relieve. The bullpen competition is pretty fierce, too.

“I’ve never been handed a spot in spring training,” he said. “Never once did I come into camp and they said, ‘OK, you’re going to be in the rotation,’ or, ‘You’re going to be here.’ I’ve always had to compete in spring training. I made Toronto’s team two years ago as a complete long shot to even make the team, let alone make the rotation, so I’ve done it before and I know what it takes to be in that position. I’m not overly concerned about it.

“If I had to choose between starting or (being a) reliever, I definitely would want to be a starter. It’s nice to get in a routine. It’s definitely an advantage to be preparing for an outing as a starter vs. being in the bullpen, where you have to be ready every day. But I can go either way. If you want me in the bullpen, I can handle that. I can eat up some innings in the bullpen if guys get in trouble or whatever. I can pick up a start. Whatever I can do to help the team win, I’ll do it. If they want me to play shortstop, I’ll try.”

Is there another team in the Grapefruit or Cactus League that’s got more openings in its rotation than the Orioles? Not one spot is secured.

“I’ve never been in that situation,” Eveland said. “We were close to that, I guess, in Oakland in 2009. We didn’t really have any guarantees. But other than that, I was in camp with Arizona back in ‘07 and it was like, the fifth spot is kind of open. The first four were already locked. It’s hard to make it in the rotation when that’s the situation, where there’s one spot to be made.

“I know there’s a lot of competition here for the rotation, but at the same time there’s no guarantees because there’s five spots to be won. Love to make one of those spots. Obviously, we all want that opening day start. That would be the coolest thing, but to find a spot in the rotation would be really cool.”

Eveland could do it without bringing the heat, but he’s got “journeyman” written all over him. Actually, he’s got “Eveland” tattooed across his upper back, along with other artwork that, combined with his facial hair, makes him appear to be a menacing figure. It isn’t until you talk to him that you discover how he’s one of the nicest, most personable guys in the clubhouse. But I digress ...

Asked if he’s eager to plant roots and stay in Baltimore, perhaps daring to unpack his suitcase, Eveland replied, “That would be real nice. It seems like a really good place to do it. I like all the coaching staff so far and I’ve gotten to know some of the guys. Everybody seems like good people, so I’d definitely like to be around. It’s the best division to play in in baseball. We always want to compete at the top level and you’re not going to get a better division than what we’re in right now. It’s a good place to be in. If you can pitch here, you can pitch anywhere, and that’s what I’m hoping to make happen.

“If you’re scared, so be it. Then you don’t want to be over here. But for me, I’ll go against the best. I’ve been beat plenty of times. It’s not like I’m afraid to lose. At the same time, I’ve beat the best, so it doesn’t matter. If I have my good stuff that day, I can beat anybody. Just as well as, if I don’t have my good stuff, anybody can beat me. It just depends on hopefully having my good stuff more days than my bad.”

Eveland went 3-2 with a 3.03 ERA in five starts with the Dodgers last summer after being promoted from Triple-A Albuquerque - his only winning season in the majors.

“There are a lot of people who say if you can win in Albequerque, you can win anywhere in baseball,” he said. “It’s a hitter’s paradise. The wind blows straight out and the elevation is ridiculous. You’ve got to keep the ball on the ground. I became a better pitcher last year than I’ve ever been in my life because of that. It ended up becoming a blessing, and I was dreading it coming out of spring training. Working there all season made me a much better pitcher. Nothing’s as sharp, nothing moves as it’s supposed to, so you’ve got to throw the ball in the corners, you’ve got to throw the ball down in the zone, you’ve got to be able to change speeds with everything and trick some people sometimes.”

Eveland’s early days in camp included being tested by new director of pitching development Rick Peterson, who’s introducing the Orioles to his biomechanical analysis.

“That’s the first time I’ve ever done it,” Eveland said. “I missed Rick when I was with Oakland because he was there way before me, and I was in Milwaukee and he came after me, so I never had an opportunity to work with him. I can’t really say whether it’s good, bad or indifferent because I haven’t got a chance to really look at it or sit down with him and talk about it, but I’m definitely interested. Anything that could possibly add something that’s a little bit better to my repertoire or to my work routine or whatever it’s going to be, I’m interested. So, we’ll see what happens.”

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