Kevin Gausman on trying to win a rotation spot and more

Right-hander Kevin Gausman, who turned 24 on Jan. 6, is about to start his fourth season in pro ball. It will be his third year spending at least part of the season in the big leagues.

Will it be the first season that he is no longer on the shuttle from Triple-A Norfolk to Baltimore?

In 2013, Gausman had three separate major league stints. In 2014, he had six stints in the big leagues, including three that lasted two days or less.

gausman-pitching-gray-glasses.jpgMaybe he will start the season in the majors and stay with the Orioles all year.

“I don’t know. I guess we’ll find out,” Gausman said Saturday at FanFest. “I feel confident in what I did last year and felt like I made some good strides. You want to get better as the year goes on and I definitely felt like I did.”

The fourth overall pick in the 2012 draft out of LSU, Gausman went 7-7 with a 3.57 ERA in 2014. He allowed three earned runs or fewer in 16 of his 20 starts.

What did he learn pitching 113 innings in the big leagues?

“That you are going to be a different guy every day,” he said. “I felt like every one of my starts wasn’t the same as the one before. I always wanted to pitch to my strengths, but sometimes you have to pitch toward your weaknesses. I had the chance to have a good routine and know that I was going to be pitching every fifth day.”

Gausman was asked to clarify what he meant by pitching to his weaknesses.

“You know, there are certain pitches that I wouldn’t throw,” he said. “I would rather throw a changeup to a lefty than a slider, but there were certain times I had to be confident in Nick Hundley behind the plate or Caleb (Joseph) and just trust what they were calling. I think that is something you don’t really deal with until you get to the big leagues.”

Gausman is the third Orioles first-round draft pick out of LSU following Mike Fontenot, taken 19th in 2001, and Ben McDonald, taken with the first overall pick in 1989.

What does Gausman plan to work on the most when spring training begins?

“Just being more consistent,” Gausman said. “I am always working on my slider and trying to refine it. I felt it was really good when I was coming out of the bullpen. And it was that way in 2013 with my slider coming out of the bullpen. I just need to trust it and throw it and let the grip do the work. Other that that, just try to be more consistent. My main focus now is getting strong, be strong and ready for spring training.”

Gausman said he bought his first house over the winter and he’d now like to put down roots in the Orioles rotation. He was asked about having six starters for five spots.

“I think it is definitely good to have a healthy competition. You know, we had it last year, too, so it will be like last year this year,” he said.

Well, if you made it to FanFest on Saturday, I hope you had a great time. It is always a great day to talk baseball and start thinking about a new season. It was fun for me to meet some fans yesterday and host two kids press conferences.

They were sure a hit, as I hosted one featuring J.J. Hardy and Chris Davis, and a second one with Tommy Hunter and Darren O’Day. All four players were great with the kids and the youngsters had several interesting questions. I’ll pass along some quotes from those next week. If you missed the one with Hunter, well, that guy is tremendously funny. He could have a future in standup comedy.

If you made it to FanFest, tell us about your day and what you enjoyed the most.

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