SARASOTA, Fla. - Orioles right-hander Mychal Givens began yesterday’s ninth inning against the Detroit Tigers in Lakeland with an ERA of 30.38. He had allowed nine hits and nine runs, including three homers, over 2 2/3 innings.
But last Friday, during a simulated game in Sarasota, he felt he found something, and it carried over into the game yesterday when he pitched a 1-2-3 ninth, ending the game with a swinging strikeout on a 97 mph fastball.
He worked hard with pitching coach Doug Brocail and bullpen coach John Wasdin in recent days. It started with the sim game and was on display Monday at Joker Marchant Stadium.
“Just feel like my timing got better,” Givens said this morning in the Orioles clubhouse. “Working with Doug on getting my timing and rhythm back together. Felt really good in getting my body down the hill more direct and consistent. That is what spring is for, to get you prepared and ready for the season.
“I have a lot of moving parts and you need to have your arm catch up with your body (during the delivery). My arm, I felt it wasn’t in synch with my body. Now I’m back on rhythm between that sim game and yesterday. And now it’s just about getting our body underneath us and just stay healthy toward the end of spring.”
Struggling in March was new for Givens. His spring ERAs starting in 2015 through 2018 were 2.45, 0.82, 1.50 and 1.69.
“This is the first time in five spring trainings that I’ve had a bad spring,” he said. “Just having Brocail and Wasdin to say, ‘Forget it, get your innings in, be healthy and ready for the season’ was big.
“Yeah, a lot of it came together in the simulated game. We looked at old video and then got my delivery more consistent. Can’t say enough about Brocail and John Wasdin that have been putting in the time with everybody, not just myself. They are so passionate about our success.”
Givens ended last year on a roll and did not allow a run in 15 of his last 17 games, pitching to a 1.45 ERA. He allowed just one hit his last 14 1/3 innings, holding batters to a .023 average (1-for-44) in that span.
Throughout our interview this morning he kept coming back to his pitching coach and praising Brocail.
“He understands this game is hard and there will be some mediocre and bad outings. He’s done it,” Given said. “Can’t thank him enough. He tells you just keep working, find some positives every day and to keep competing. Have each other’s back when it comes to our pitching staff and feed off everybody.”
New manager Brandon Hyde has not anointed Givens as his closer for the 2019 season. It’s presumed, but not announced.
“I don’t look at it as what I had done last year,” Givens added. “This year I just want to help our bullpen any way that I can. The last few years I’m thankful that guys like Darren (O’Day), Brad (Brach), Zack (Britton), Tommy Hunter and (Brian) Matusz taught me about being a bullpen guy. I’m ready for any role. Whenever my name is called, I want to be a leader and help our club in any way.”
The Orioles’ scheduled 1:05 p.m. game with the Minnesota Twins in Sarasota was rained out and will not be made up. The Orioles (12-11-2) are scheduled to host the Red Sox at Ed Smith Stadium on Wednesday at 6:05 p.m.