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Orioles' Eddie Gamboa needs to fully embrace the knuckleball

LAKELAND, Fla. — Right-hander Eddie Gamboa was one of three Orioles pitchers to give up at least four earned runs in Tuesday's Grapefruit League-opening 15-2 loss to the Detroit Tigers at Joker Marchant Stadium. But he got singled out for a little tough love from manager Buck Showalter.

"Eddie's got to decide whether he's a knuckleball pitcher or not,'' Showalter said. "He threw a 3-1 fastball to a left-hander. Didn't throw a knuckleball until about the fifth pitch. Finally threw a 2-0 knuckleball for an out to a right-handed hitter, so hopefully we can use what happened today to kind of get through to him."

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Gamboa began trying to reinvent himself as a knuckleball pitcher in 2013 and has had just enough success over the past couple of years to give the Orioles reason to bring him to major league camp and give him a chance to perfect the pitch.

"He took off last year with RJ [Norfolk manager Ron Johnson] and now, where are you?" Showalter said. "So, I think as you go up higher levels, he's going to see why he's going to have to throw the knuckleball. He had a good one today."

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Of course, that requires a highly competitive guy to concede that his straight stuff is not good enough to get major league hitters out.

In this case, he wasn't even facing frontline hitters. He pitched two innings on Tuesday and allowed four runs on three hits and a walk. Three of those runs came home on a home run by Aaron Westlake.

"You've got to see the hitters are better -- 3-1, 88-mph fastballs go somewhere that you can't catch them,'' Showalter said. "That's why he's becoming a knuckleball pitcher. He's got a good knuckler and you saw things you like about it."


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