Bundy, who gave up four runs on nine hits over 4 2/3 innings in the Orioles’ 9-7 loss Monday to the New York Mets, was just here to refine his pitch repertoire and get to Opening Day healthy and ready to pitch six innings during the first week of the season.
Smith got here a little more than two weeks ago and needed to put every tool he’s got on display to force his way onto the Opening Day roster.
Smith did that and then some. He hit two more home runs Monday in a 3-for-3 performance that was just gravy, since it was already apparent that he had made the club. He batted .325 with five homers and nine RBIs in 12 exhibition games with the Orioles and said that he could not have imagined a better — albeit short — audition.
“No, I can’t,” he said. “God always has a plan and I just always kept my faith. I’ve always worked hard and it’s good to see that hard work paying off.”
Not bad power numbers for a guy who had two home runs and nine RBIs in 47 major league games over the past two seasons with the Toronto Blue Jays.
“I’ve just been working on it,” he said, “I felt like this past offseason, something clicked. I have been pretty much working on what I was working on at the end of last season.”
Even though he was picked up by the Orioles on March 8 in exchange for international bonus pool money, he said he felt he had a legitimate chance to win a major league job.
“Like I said earlier [in the spring], as long as I have a jersey, there’s always a chance,” he said. “I always believe that I’m playing for a spot on the team.”
Manager Brandon Hyde obviously was impressed. Who wouldn’t be.
“He has swung the bat really well since we picked him up,” Hyde said. “He’s competing at the plate. He’s driving the baseball, so yes, he’s been unbelievably impressive and I hope he continues to swing it like this when we go north.”
Bundy’s place on the team and in the starting rotation has never been in doubt, though the recent uncertainty surrounding the groin injury suffered by No. 1 starter Alex Cobb, who was placed on the 10-day injured list Monday and will miss his Opening Day start, has left the order of the rotation uncertain.
Bundy came here to get ready for the season and says he has done that, though his numbers in his six exhibition performances don’t reflect it. He has allowed 19 earned runs in 21 2/3 innings, which works out to a 7.89 ERA, but said he’s right where he wants to be.
“Absolutely,” he said. “I finished spring training healthy. That’s the main goal. Today I was mainly working on my change-up. I threw it a lot more than I normally would in a game and I was really happy with it. Gave up a homer, but for the most part I was happy.”
Bundy threw 82 pitches and said he is ready to go.
“Today, we were trying to get up to 80 and we got up to 82 or 83 maybe,” he said, “so that’s good. I know it was only 4 2/3 innings, which is not ideal, but I feel good and I’m ready for the season.”
Hyde viewed the performance through the same prism as Bundy, focusing on the process more than the results.
“I think he got his work in … that’s the main thing,” Hyde said. “He got his pitch count up. I don’t think he was as sharp as he would have liked to be. But got his last start of the spring in, came off the field feeling healthy and got his pitch count up.”
Hyde’s first spring
The Orioles were in quite a rush to pack up and get back to Baltimore on Monday, but Hyde paused at the end of his postgame session with reporters to reflect briefly on his first spring training as a major league manager.
He was asked if it was all he expected it to be.
“I think so, yeah. I think the vibe in here is really good,” he said. “I think guys have played hard through camp. I think there’s been a great energy level in camp. I think that we’re continuing to get more talent in our organization, so I think there are a lot of positive things you can take from these last six weeks.”
The announced crowd of 7,357 at Ed Smith Stadium on Monday increased the total Grapefruit League attendance this spring to 103,167, breaking 100,000 for the ninth time in the team’s 10 seasons as the stadium’s primary tenant.
The O’s welcomed their one-millionth fan in late February and have drawn a 10-year total of 1,091,516.
Read more from columnist Peter Schmuck on his blog, "The Schmuck Stops Here," at baltimoresun.com/schmuckblog.
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