CLEARWATER, Fla. -- Kevin Gausman's second Grapefruit League start was vastly different -- and superior -- from his first. Five days after he was forced to leave his start following a collision with the Tigers' Jeimer Candelario behind home plate, Gausman had a perfect afternoon.The right-hander quickly polished off the
CLEARWATER, Fla. -- Kevin Gausman's second Grapefruit League start was vastly different -- and superior -- from his first. Five days after he was forced to leave his start following a collision with the Tigers' Jeimer Candelario behind home plate, Gausman had a perfect afternoon.
The right-hander quickly polished off the nine Phillies batters he faced in the Orioles' 4-2 win Saturday. Gausman struck out five and threw 39 pitches in three innings.
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That line was quite better than his first start, when he gave up five runs on six hits in 1 1/3 innings. Though Gausman still had a scab from the cut he suffered when he collided with Candelario, he was quickly cleared to pitch again.
"I wanted to be on my regular schedule today," Gausman said. "There's no reason why I couldn't be. It felt great. You're always trying to take that next step in Spring Training, specifically. It's always good to get out there and get through three innings."
Manager Buck Showalter joked about Gausman's injury.
"He's OK from the collision," Showalter said. "We'll have him run into the on-deck hitter next outing -- or every outing."
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Gausman isn't really a strikeout pitcher, but he liked what he had in his arsenal.
"I was throwing everything. Had a real good feel for my slider today, and I got some strikeouts on it," Gausman said. "For me, when I'm going good, I get a lot of ground balls and weak contact. I try to assess my starts on that, and today was pretty good."
Gausman was the team's Opening Day pitcher last season and went 11-12 with a 4.68 ERA. Gausman had a rough first half, but he improved markedly in the second half.
"He doesn't seem to be as worried about velocity and overpowering people," Showalter said.
Showalter hasn't made a decision on the Opening Day assignment. It could be the 27-year-old or another right-hander, Dylan Bundy.
Bundy, who was the Orioles' wins leader in 2017 when he was 13-9 with a 4.24 ERA, could be the choice.
In his two Grapefruit League starts, Bundy has allowed 10 runs on 11 hits in 4 1/3 innings for an ERA of 20.77.
"The way I look at it is that 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 start Friday against the Pirates. "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."
Showalter doesn't seem terribly concerned about the 25-year-old's first two spring starts.
"I think he knows that he's going to be in our rotation, and he knows where the finish line is," Showalter said. "He's pretty mature about it. Sometimes you have to remind yourself how young he is."
Bundy, who was drafted fourth overall in 2011 but didn't make it to the big leagues to stay until '16 due to Tommy John surgery, doesn't have all that much Major League experience. But, he has learned a lot about the ins and outs of pitching.
"Last outing, I was just missing off the plate," Bundy said. "This outing, I was just missing too much over the plate and a little bit up. I've just got to keep working during spring."
Rich Dubroff is a contributor to MLB.com.