Hanhold clicks with new coaches, makes run at bullpen spot

SARASOTA, Fla. - His spring training run of scoreless innings ended on an 0-2 changeup against a career minor leaguer with six big league at-bats in 2016. But Toronto’s Andy Burns hit it good in the sixth inning Wednesday at Dunedin, and O’s right-hander Eric Hanhold was finally scored on.

He was an out away from six appearances and six scoreless innings when Burns hit one out to left.

“I would have liked to bury that one. But it was one pitch. Get it out now (rather) than during the season,” the 26-year-old Hanhold said.

Hanhold-Pitch-White-ST-sidebar.jpgSo he’s now allowed three hits over six innings with two walks and nine strikeouts. He would have liked to finish spring strong, but teams are not being allowed to play any more spring games. Major League Baseball announced yesterday that the remaining scheduled spring games are being cancelled and opening day will be postponed by at least two weeks.

“Just want to finish solid, just dominate,” Hanhold said yesterday, before the MLB announcement.

Hanhold became an Oriole last Sept. 16 when the club claimed him from the New York Mets on waivers. On Jan. 7 he was designated for assignment when the O’s added shortstop José Iglesias. About a week later he was sent outright to Triple-A and he’s in camp as a non-roster player.

“They claimed me, they wanted me,” he said. “It was a new beginning. So, I had the mindset of coming in and making the team out of camp. And I thought I did a pretty good job preparing myself for that this offseason. So, we’ll see what happens. It’s a long season and I’m sure I’ll get an opportunity sometime.”

When it comes to opportunity, he’s probably found the right organization. Or they found him anyway.

“It’s perfect,” he said. “You can’t ask for a better place to be right now. I’m really excited for the season.”

One thing that excites Hanhold about the Orioles is a solid relationship he’s quickly built with the coaches. He spent the winter discussing with director of pitching Chris Holt ways to improve his game. This spring he’s connected well with pitching coach Doug Brocail and bullpen coach Darren Holmes.

“I mean, the communication is the best I’ve ever been a part of,” Hanhold said. “And that is one thing that is huge: being on the same page, getting information back and forth correct. To know what you are doing and what they want you to work on, and what they want from you, so you can give them that. They are open. Nothing is hidden. Any questions, they are there to answer them.”

The Orioles might be catching Hanhold at the right time in his career. He feels his pitching has made important and significant gains the last year or two.

“Mentally, way stronger,” he said. “You go through hard times and then figure it out. Physically, better. Knowing the game. Knowing more about pitching, how to set up hitters. How to read hitters. And kind of meshing that all together on the mound and in the performances.”

Holt spent time discussing how analytics and data provided him input he could pass on to Hanhold, who hadn’t previously been well versed in those topics.

“Before I got here, probably not,” Hanhold said. “Really not big into that. But me and Holty had some talks over the offseason. And we talked about some stuff I’m working on. The four-seamer (up in the zone) and throwing the changeup more. We had some conversations coming into camp what he wanted me to work on. That was nice.

“He gave me everything to back it up (and show me it works). And all the numbers and I was on board with it. I was thinking the same thing. I needed something up in the zone. I was always primarily a sinkerballer. So getting that pitch I can ride up there, change eye levels was a big thing. It’s playing well with my stuff right now. That was a big key for me.”

Hanhold is stating his case to be on the opening day roster, whenever that day does come. He is pitching well in camp and he said he is not feeling any pressure at all. He’s positioned himself quite well.

“I take it one day at a time,” Hanhold said. “Just let it go on the field and show when I’m out there. There is nothing you can do behind the scenes or anything. It is ‘What can you do in the field?’ and I just take it one day at a time.

“If it’s meant to be, it’s meant to be. I know I’ll get a shot. If I don’t, I just have to keep working through it. It’s just life. You have ups and downs. You have to stay consistent, even-keel and trust the process. I am very even-keel, don’t like to get too high or low.”

One newsworthy day: O’s outfielder Trey Mancini underwent successful surgery Thursday to remove a malignant tumor from his colon. The tumor was discovered last week during a colonoscopy. An Orioles’ statement also said lab results and the timetable for his recovery won’t be known until next week. Click here to read more on Mancini.

Before we heard the Mancini news yesterday, Chris Davis, the O’s player rep, spoke about the cancellation of spring games here. Later today we should have more of an idea of how the Orioles will operate in the next few weeks leading up to the start of the season, whenever that turns out to be.

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