Goofy. Quirky. Superstitious.
Those are some of the words that can be used to describe the Orioles’ first-round draft pick, former LSU pitcher Kevin Gausman, who has pitched six shutout innings on one hit over two outings so far for short-season Single-A Aberdeen.
Gausman doesn’t seem eccentric or weird, he’s just got some things he does that are a little different - from the ritual he uses to put on his socks when he pitches to eating donuts during games to what he does with his first warm-up pitch before every inning.
Gausman’s first warm-up is not really a pitch. There is no wind-up. He goes to the back slope of the mound, hops in the air, then runs to the pitching rubber and while on the move fires a heater to his catcher.
“It’s like he’s throwing a javelin. I’ve seen just about everything, but I’ve not seen that yet,” said Aberdeen manager Gary Allenson.
“Really, I’ve been doing that since about seventh grade,” Gausman said after his start Sunday at Ripken Stadium. “I used to do it from second base, but before I got into high school, my dad said, ‘You look like an idiot doing that from second. At least do it on the mound.’
“The reason I did it, being back in Colorado, I would always warm up, but then get cold again because it’s always freezing in the spring there. My high school was on the top of a hill and we used to joke that it was 20 degrees colder there than anywhere else in Aurora, where I’m from. I’ve been doing that probably as long as I’ve been eating donuts.”
So what does he do with his socks on game day?
“I put on one sock and then go get something to drink. Come back, take it off and then go get something to drink again. Put it back on, then put on my other one and go get something to drink. It’s kind of funny and different and it can take me a while to get dressed when I pitch. But that’s the way I am.
“I’ve been doing that since high school. We never had a locker room in high school, so I used to have to do it out in my car, getting dressed before a game. It’s freezing, so I had to hurry up.”
After all that he probably needs a restroom break, but I digress.
Like some players, Gausman will not step on the foul line when he takes the field. But unlike many of them, he doesn’t just step over the line but leaps over it like he’s taking part in the broad jump.
“I was just always told a baseball superstition is that you don’t want to touch the line, so I’ve always been hopping over it,” he said.
Guasman’s most famous superstition, or at least the one that has attracted the most attention, is that he eats four powdered donuts after every inning during his starts. He has done it a long time, but as reporters found out after Sunday’s game in Aberdeen, not every time out.
He didn’t eat any donuts during Sunday’s outing against Connecticut.
“I did in my first start,” he said. “Now it’s like just what I’m feeling that day. My last four starts at college, I didn’t do it. The first two starts after I stopped doing it, I threw back-to-back complete games and felt great. Our trainer at LSU said, ‘Really? You felt great after not eating donuts?’ Now, I guess I’m just doing it on feel. I wasn’t hungry, that was probably the biggest thing.”
Have the Orioles told him to back off on the donuts?
“No, I’m kind of surprised nobody has. Before my first start, Alan Mills, our pitching coach, said, ‘I heard something about you eating donuts?’ Yeah, I told him about it. He was like, ‘Hey, man, whatever works for you.’ “
Before his first home start, Gausman took to Twitter to ask his fans what song he should take the field to.
“I went with ‘Bye, Bye, Bye’ by N Sync. Me and Christian Walker were sitting in here thinking about our childhood and songs that we remembered. Started listening to some N Sync and 98 Degrees and all these different boy bands and that one just clicked,” Gausman said.
By the way, this is all fun and interesting ,but should not take away from the fact that Gausman is a very solid pitching prospect who has looked great in his first two IronBirds starts.
“He’s got the full package, but it’s a long ways to go. But he obviously has a bright future. He’s a very confident kid. He’s too advanced for most of these (New York-Penn League) hitters,” Allenson said.
Watch this: Click here for a video which covers some of Gausman’s routines. You can see early on in the video his unique first warm-up pitch routine.
Bundy coverage tonight: Dylan Bundy is scheduled to make his first start for Double-A Bowie tonight at home in the opener of a doubleheader at 6:05 p.m. I will be there to cover that game. Check here later for full coverage of Bundy’s outing and follow me on Twitter for updates, as well.