By Eduardo A. Encina
The Baltimore Sun
8:48 AM EDT, March 11, 2014
SARASOTA, Fla. -- After right-hander Eddie Gamboa closed out the Orioles' 7-6 Grapefruit League win over the Pittsburgh Pirates at McKechnie Field on Monday, catcher Johnny Monell gave the knuckleballer a high five and a catcher’s mitt.
This spring, when he enters games, Gamboa has given his catchers a special mitt designed to help them handle the knuckleball.
“I know I’m not the easiest guy to catch,” Gamboa said. “When a guy is coming out there with his own catcher’s glove, I wouldn’t be too excited about it either. But so far, so good. I’m feeling healthy, and I think that’s the most important thing.
Gamboa retired the Pirates quickly Monday. He allowed a leadoff single to Chase d’Arnaud, but picked him off first base. Overall, Gamboa baffled the Pittsburgh batters, mixing in a hard knuckleball in the high 70s and a soft one in the low 60s. He struck out former Orioles infielder Robert Andino looking.
Even though Caleb Joseph and Brian Ward were familiar with Gamboa because they've been minor league teammates, every catcher in camp has caught Gamboa.
Orioles manager Buck Showalter has used Gamboa both early and late in games. He has allowed him to open innings, as he did Monday, and has brought him in during the middle of frames with men on base.
The results have been there. In four scoreless spring innings over five outings, Gamboa has allowed just one hit with six strikeouts and one walk.
“It’s always nice to get innings,” Gamboa said over the weekend about his spring. “We’re here to pitch and just try to take advantage of the opportunities we have here and work on our stuff as well. That’s what spring training is for.”
Today, the Orioles host the Boston Red Sox for a 1:05 p.m. game at Ed Smith Stadium. Miguel Gonzalez will make his first start since coming out of Friday's game three batters into the outing after taking a comebacker off his left shin.
Gonzalez is expected to pitch three innings, and then left-hander Brian Matusz is expected to do the same.
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