SARASOTA, FLA. — Orioles right-hander Kevin Gausman pitched to the minimum six hitters in his 2016 exhibition debut to become the first projected starter in the club's rotation to pitch well this spring.
Gausman allowed just a single to Tampa Bay Rays designated hitter Corey Dickerson while striking out three. Dickerson was thrown out trying to steal by Matt Wieters.
"I felt good," Gausman said. "The biggest thing right now is just fastball command. I threw some good pitches on the inside half when I was meaning to. That's usually one of the last things to come. ... I'm kind of happy about that."
Gausman threw 31 pitches -- 20 for strikes -- then went to the bullpen to complete a 40-pitch target.
He said that it was "a little weird" facing former teammate Steve Pearce, who he retired on a ground ball to third.
"To watch him play every day for the last three years, and then kind of seeing him in the box was a little bit weird, just seeing just how much on the plate he actually is," Gausman said. "It was kind of cool, though."
It has not been a great week for the Orioles rotation. Chris Tillman had to be scratched from his first scheduled start and both Ubaldo Jimenez and Miguel Gonzalez were hit hard their first times out. Newly acquired Yovani Gallardo has yet to pitch.
"I didn't really think about it like that. We're all trying to pitch well," Gausman said. "Nobody is trying to pitch poorly, especially starting out the game. But it is spring training and it takes some guys a little bit longer. Ever since the season ended last year, I've just kind of wanted to get out here and I'm just excited to get the first one out of the way."