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Gausman greeted by familiar faces with Braves

Former Orioles pitcher jokes about joining 'Baltimore South'
MLB.com @JoeTrezz

NEW YORK -- Of all the players sent to new teams prior to Tuesday's non-waiver Trade Deadline, perhaps none faced a smoother transition than Kevin Gausman. The new Braves right-hander had to merely swap Manhattan hotel rooms after he was dealt by the Orioles, who were playing at Yankee Stadium at the time. Then he switched direction. A short drive to Queens planted Gausman at the door of his new clubhouse -- one full of familiar faces.

"We've joked about this being Baltimore South," Gausman said.

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NEW YORK -- Of all the players sent to new teams prior to Tuesday's non-waiver Trade Deadline, perhaps none faced a smoother transition than Kevin Gausman. The new Braves right-hander had to merely swap Manhattan hotel rooms after he was dealt by the Orioles, who were playing at Yankee Stadium at the time. Then he switched direction. A short drive to Queens planted Gausman at the door of his new clubhouse -- one full of familiar faces.

"We've joked about this being Baltimore South," Gausman said.

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Said in jest, but not without merit. Even without Brad Brach and Darren O'Day, who were both traded to Atlanta alongside Gausman for a bundle of prospects, Gausman's new home comes packed with reminders of his old one. There is Nick Markakis, his former locker neighbor in Baltimore. There is Ryan Flaherty, who played behind Gausman for five seasons. And then there are director of pitching Dom Chiti and special assistant to pitching Dave Wallace -- two reasons the Braves had targeted Gausman for some time. Both worked with Gausman as a younger pitcher.

"I think that had a lot to do with them going after me," Gausman said. "Them saying, 'We can get him back to where he was before.'"

For the Braves, the hope is these comforts help Gausman blossom like he never truly did in the Charm City. The No. 4 overall Draft pick in 2012, Gausman was in the big leagues less than a year later. But inconsistencies followed. Gausman went 35-49 with a 4.24 ERA in 127 starts over parts of six seasons in the hitter-happy American League East.

Tweet from @Braves: Welcome to Braves Country, @KevinGausman!#ChopOn pic.twitter.com/urnkUgwXsK

"I had some good years with the Orioles, but to be honest, I never felt like I got to the best of my abilities," Gausman said. "Not that I've had a bad career, but it's tough to pitch in the AL East."

He was 5-8 with a 4.43 ERA in 21 starts this year, while missing bats at a near career-low mark. He will slide into the back of Atlanta's modified six-man rotation going forward, with Gausman's first start set for Saturday against the Mets. The club optioned right-hander Wes Parsons to Triple-A Gwinnett on Thursday to clear room on the active roster.

"I have to think someone coming from the AL East is going to like where he ends up," Braves manager Brian Snitker said. "We've liked his stuff for a long time. ... We think in our system, we can do a lot to help him. Maximize what he's got."

It is in the standings where the Braves hope the addition of Gausman makes the biggest difference. Atlanta entered Thursday a half-game back of first-place Philadelphia; Baltimore owned the worst record in the Majors by a wide margin.

"It kind of feels like 2014 did in Baltimore," said Gausman, who was 23 when the Orioles made a surprising run to the AL East title that year. "There are a lot of things to be excited about right now. I'll just try to be the guy not to mess that up."

Joe Trezza is a reporter for MLB.com based in New York. Follow him on Twitter at @joetrezz.

Atlanta Braves, Kevin Gausman