As Orioles right-hander Andrew Cashner threw his first bullpen session with his new club Tuesday in solitude — the only pitcher throwing in a bullpen area that has three mounds — right-handers Dylan Bundy and Kevin Gausman sat behind him and watched intently.
For Cashner — who signed a two-year deal with the Orioles guaranteeing him $16 million Thursday — it was the first time throwing a bullpen in about 10 days, so he was rusty, but he showed a glimpse of the wide arsenal of pitches he throws.
“He was good, right where he needs to be,” Orioles manager Buck Showalter said. “You watch him from afar and you see him. He’s pitched well against us. You’re always kind curious of completely why because you’re not allowed to stand behind him during the games while he’s warming up, but you can see why.”
Bundy and Gausman are both eager to learn from Cashner, who became the Orioles’ most experienced starting pitcher when he joined with 137 major league starts. Chris Tillman’s pending return will give him that title with 198.
Bundy said he can’t wait to learn how to throw Cashner’s two-seam sinker, joking that he’s been trying to throw one for 24 years.
Showalter said it's just one example of how the Orioles make newcomers feel comfortable.
“That’s not forced,” Showalter said. “Zach [Britton] was talking about the comfort zone that gets created for a player when they come in here new. And that comes from things like that. I know Bundy is pretty excited. He and Cashner have a lot in common, [along with] Tillman. We’re going to have to restock the [fishing] pond.”
Orioles starting pitchers typically watch one another’s bullpen sessions during the regular season, a practice started by former pitching coach Dave Wallace and bullpen coach Dom Chiti three years ago. It proved to be productive because the players were able to critique one another’s sessions and because each noticed different things.
“You look at Cashner, I think his stuff alone is going to play well,” Gausman said. “It’s weird because every one of us have different strengths, and I think it’s really good when you can play off of each other like that. … The way I look at it now, we have four of the five guys who on any given day can pitch a complete game — that’s the way I look at it — and is going to give us a chance to win a ballgame.”
Showalter said he would wait for Cashner to throw a few more bullpen sessions before deciding when he would make his spring training debut.
Showalter said his veteran pitchers are unlikely to pitch against American League East competition and the Minnesota Twins, the team the Orioles face in the regular-season opener. Nineteen of the Orioles’ 32 Grapefruit League games come against those teams.
Instead, those pitchers will log innings in intrasquad games and B-games before minor league games begin in mid-March.
Scott likes his place in the Orioles clubhouse
When pitching prospect Tanner Scott arrived for his first major league camp, it didn’t take him long to figure out he had been given a special place in the clubhouse.
The guy in front of the locker to his right was a pitcher who started his career in much the same way as Scott, trying to establish himself in an organization that wasn’t quite sure how to use him. That guy eventually turned out to be one of the best closers in the major leagues in Zach Britton.
“I got to camp, noticed my locker was next to his and I was like — ‘Yeah!’ — because he’s a great guy to learn from, Scott said. “I mean, look at him, he’s Zach Britton. He went through the starting role and now he’s one of the ultimate closers.”
Showalter acknowledged that the locker placement was by design, which should come as no shock to anyone, since everything Showalter does is part of his master plan.
Scott, who made his major league debut in a brief audition in September, has been back and forth between the rotation and bullpen during his minor league career, though almost all of his recent starts have been limited to just two or three innings. It’s as if the Orioles don’t really know what they want to do with him, and Britton knows all about that.
"It has been really good to be next to his locker,’’ Scott said. “You get to pick his brain a little bit. Even after my bullpens, I’ve talked to him for five, 10, 15 minutes every single time. When you pick a guy’s brain who’s been there and you see how how successful he’s been, he’s a great guy to learn from.”
So, what has been the best piece of advice Britton has given him?
“Don’t worry about one pitch,’’ Scott said. “If the pitch isn’t where you want it, go out and make the next pitch. Don’t live on just one pitch. Move on to the next.”
Susac health update
Showalter said he believed catcher Andrew Susac, who was being hospitalized for what Showalter is called a staph infection, would be discharged from the hospital Tuesday.
“He’s going to be at home for a couple of days to continue some of the treatments,” Showalter said after Tuesday’s workout. “They were planning on releasing him today if nothing’s changed.”
It is unclear when Susac will be able to return to workouts.
Around the horn
One defensive drill Tuesday featured situational rundown plays — particularly between third and home plate — -- with coaches filling in as base runners. Prospect Ryan Mountcastle participated in that drill at third base after working with major league infield coach Bobby Dickerson at shortstop two days earlier. … Photo day took place before Tuesday’s workout, and Darren O’Day chose to keep his spring training mustache, while Chris Davis shaved his off before taking head-shot photos that will be used throughout the season.