Orioles manager Showalter playing his pair of aces strategically
Friday, March 9, 2018 – Print Edition, Page B16

SARASOTA, FLA. -- Right-handers Dylan Bundy and Kevin Gausman remain the top two Baltimore Orioles starting pitchers - for now.

When the Orioles opened spring training, they were the team's only accomplished starters in their rotation. Baltimore has re-signed Chris Tillman and added Andrew Cashner to the starting staff, but Bundy and Gausman are the team's aces.

Bundy and Gausman have been grouped together. They were the fourth overall picks in consecutive drafts - Bundy in 2011 and Gausman in 2012.

Though Bundy got to the big leagues first, in September, 2012, injuries kept him from returning until the beginning of the 2016 season. By then, Gausman had already spent parts of three seasons in the major leagues.

Last year, Bundy surpassed Gausman on the mound, with a 13-9 record and a 4.24 ERA. He also tossed a one-hit shutout against the Seattle Mariners, striking out 12.

"I don't think he ever takes anything for granted," Baltimore manager Buck Showalter said of Bundy. "He's trying to work on some things. I don't think he's ever going to get comfortable and think he's got it all figured out."

Bundy has pitched in two Grapefruit League games, allowing 10 runs in 41/3 innings, and on Wednesday threw four innings in a simulated game.

"It's just the first two outings of spring, and I'm getting back in the swing of things, but I don't like giving up hits and hit batters and homers and stuff like that," Bundy said after his second start on March 2. "Just mainly getting the arm in shape to go five, six, seven innings is the goal here.

"Obviously, I need to work on my pitch execution, and get those pitches refined a little bit."

Gausman, who was 11-12 with a 4.68 ERA, had a rough first start when he collided behind home plate with Detroit's Jeimer Candelario on Feb. 26.

The brim of Candelario's helmet cut Gausman above his left eye, but he checked out well, and four days later, threw three perfect innings at Philadelphia, pleasing his manager.

"He's okay from the collision," Showalter said. "We'll have him run into the on-deck hitter next outing - or every outing."

Showalter has been especially careful to limit his starters' exposure this spring. He doesn't want them to pitch against American League East teams and the Minnesota Twins, against whom the Orioles play 19 of their 32 Grapefruit League games.

Gausman, whose next start has yet to be announced, cherished his perfect start - even if it was only for nine batters - particularly after going through concussion protocol.

"Made sure I knew what day it was and that type of thing, which, most days I don't," Gausman joked after the collision.

He was pleased with his uneventful start.

"You're always trying to take that next step in spring training, specifically," Gausman said. "It's always good to get out there and get through three innings."

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