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Gausman excited for 1st MLB start in hometown

Right-hander grew up outside of Denver, set to face Rox on Wednesday
@MannyOnMLB
April 8, 2019

DENVER -- Kevin Gausman has been in the Majors for seven seasons, and somehow, the right-hander has never pitched at Coors Field, located in the hitter-friendly climate of his hometown of Denver. That will change Wednesday, with Gausman slated to start the three-game series finale between the Braves and Rockies.

DENVER -- Kevin Gausman has been in the Majors for seven seasons, and somehow, the right-hander has never pitched at Coors Field, located in the hitter-friendly climate of his hometown of Denver.

That will change Wednesday, with Gausman slated to start the three-game series finale between the Braves and Rockies.

"It's crazy, because I feel like I've been in the big leagues for a good bit," Gausman said. "And I haven't been here. This is one of two ballparks -- here and Busch Stadium -- that I haven't played at. So that's kind of weird, being that I grew up 30 minutes from here."

The Orioles selected Gausman with the No. 4 overall pick in the 2012 Draft out of Louisiana State University, but he grew up on the Little League diamonds of Aurora, Colo., a suburb about 30 minutes southeast of Denver, and he later played at Aurora's Grandview High School.

Gausman hasn't yet taken the mound at Coors Field as a Major Leaguer -- he played in a high school exhibition game at the ballpark -- but he's very familiar with it, growing up a Rockies fan and visiting frequently to see his favorite club in action.

"I remember watching Andres Galarraga and Dante Bichette, the Blake Street Bombers," Gausman said. "Those teams were really fun to watch. And later, I got to play with Ubaldo Jimenez for four years [in Baltimore]. I used to watch him all the time in high school, so that was pretty cool."

Coming off seven scoreless innings in the Braves' win over the Marlins this past Friday, Gausman got to sleep in his own childhood bed on Sunday night after the club landed in Denver. And he's thrilled that much of his family gets to meet his two-month-old daughter for the first time.

Gausman has purchased multiple Coors Field suites for each game in the three-game series, and he expects about 100 of his family and friends to be in attendance for the long-awaited homecoming.

As for the task ahead of him Wednesday, Gausman knows a slow start to the Rockies' season doesn't change the fact that Colorado's lineup includes top hitters like Nolan Arenado, Trevor Story and Charlie Blackmon.

"You make good pitches, you're going to get guys out," Gausman said. "I don't think you can try to be too perfect out there. I think when you start trying to be too fine, that's when you get in trouble."

While Gausman knows the challenge from the batter's box will be formidable, especially at Coors Field, the right-hander said he doesn't plan to change anything about his routine or approach when he takes the mound, one that he's seen others throw from countless times, perhaps in his mind's eye imagining himself up there someday.

"Absolutely," Gausman said. "My parents have this kids' coloring book, and it has an insert -- you insert a picture -- and the cutout is like a Rockies player that signs a one-day contact, comes up in the ninth inning, hits a walk-off and the fans are carrying him off the field. Of course, my baby picture is slid in there."

That baby picture is still in there. And while he may not be playing for the Rockies, Gausman's dream of taking the mound as a big leaguer at Coors Field is set to become a reality.

Injury updates

• Catcher Tyler Flowers, who was hit in the right palm by a pitch during the Braves' loss to the Marlins on Saturday, is improving, according to manager Brian Snitker. Snitker added Flowers could return to the lineup as soon as Tuesday.

"We'll wait and see how he feels [Monday], the rest of the day, and if he needs another day or two, then so be it," Snitker said. "We'll give it to him. I think just popping the bat, keeping both hands on the bat, is going to be a big thing for him. Probably the throwing will be all right."

• Catcher Brian McCann, who injured his right hamstring earlier in the same contest and went on the 10-day injured list, is expected to be ready to return to the lineup at the end of those 10 days, which would be April 17.

• Right-hander Mike Foltynewicz (right elbow bone spur) is scheduled to make his second, and perhaps final, rehab start with Triple-A Gwinnett on Tuesday. Snitker said his pitch count will be around 75-80.

Soroka receives honor

Right-hander Mike Soroka was named the International League Player of the Week on Monday. The 21-year-old, who is Atlanta's No. 1 prospect and the No. 24 overall prospect per MLB Pipeline, tossed five perfect innings with seven strikeouts in his first start of the season for Triple-A Gwinnett on Saturday.

Manny Randhawa is a reporter for MLB.com based in Denver. Follow him on Twitter at @MannyOnMLB.