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Orioles notes: Rule 5 draftee José Mesa looks like his famous father in more ways than one

New Orioles pitcher José Mesa looks just like his father — the former O’s closer of the same name — and that uncanny resemblance extends to his presence on the mound.

He was one of the final pitchers to throw a bullpen session Thursday, and his stance and mechanics were reminiscent of the man who started his 19-year major league career in Baltimore and would lead the major leagues with 46 saves in 1995 for the World Series-bound Cleveland Indians.

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“Honestly, I think it’s just God-given,” Mesa said. “I used to look at him. I used to imitate it, but when it comes to me actually doing it, there’s stuff you can’t plan. When you’re on the mound, and you get your arm up here, and you put pictures side by side, that’s just, you can’t plan that.”

The veteran right-hander is coming off the best season of his eight-year major league career. He went 11-11 with a 3.40 ERA over 28 starts spanning 166 1/3 innings for the Texas Rangers in 2017.

Mesa, 24, said he was hoping the Orioles would pluck him from the New York Yankees’ unprotected list.

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“It was my mother’s birthday that day and we were praying for it,” Mesa said. “I hadn’t been protected on the 40-man, so we were praying for it. And when the news came on, me and my dad were both listening and we both got excited. We were like, ‘Man, it’s the Orioles. That’s where you came up.’ I just yelled at my mom. She was downstairs. I yelled at her and she reacted and started giving thanks to God. That’s what we’re about.”

Gamboa happy to be back

Right-hander Eddie Gamboa spent eight years in the Orioles organization before finally reaching the major leagues with the Tampa Bay Rays in 2016. Now, he’s hoping to work his way back to the bigs with Orioles.

“Happy to be back, absolutely,” he said Thursday. “The organization that I spent eight years with and I left, kind of ventured off, but in a weird way this is family; it feels like family although it’s a business. It feels good to come back and know most of the guys and coaching staff here.”

Obviously, a spot on the Orioles’ Opening Day roster is a long, long shot — especially when you’re 33 years old and have made just seven major league appearances — but Gamboa continues to refine the knuckleball that allowed him to stick around this long without establishing himself at the major league level.

The Baltimore Sun staff gives its take on the Orioles' two-year, $16 million deal with former Texas Rangers right-hander Andrew Cashner.

“I’m at that point now in my career where I feel better throwing it now,” he said. “I think that’s the biggest thing, just having the confidence in it. … I always wanted to commit to it. And I feel a lot better coming back to a coaching staff that believes in you and likes the knuckleball. Not everybody likes the knuckleball. I feel good about it, very happy and excited to move forward.”

Sisco getting up to speed

Catching prospect Chance Sisco, 22, said he’s looking forward to the challenge of learning as much as he can about all of the pitchers in camp.

“I’m just trying to learn all the guys, get to know them, catch their bullpens, see what they’ve got, work with them as much as we can and learn them as quick and as best we can,” Sisco said. “It just starts with talking to them, catching their bullpens, trying to see the movement they’ve got on each pitch.”

Sisco has a great mentor. Caleb Joseph learned to prepare pitchers alongside Matt Wieters and is happy to help the young guy who might eventually take his job.

“He’s great,” Sisco said. “He helps with anything I really have asked and any question that I have, he has an answer for me. He has worked really hard. He’s put in the time and it shows in his game. So, I’m trying to learn what he’s done to get to him, to where he’s at, and I’m trying to get to that point.

Bullpen sessions, famous author edition

During one of the three-pitcher bullpen sessions, left-hander Andrew Faulkner and Tim Melville were throwing side by side. If only Stefan Crichton had been the third guy, there would have been a famous-author-surname trifecta.

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