Orioles spotlight: Left-handed reliever Donnie Hart

SAN FRANCISCO — Orioles left-hander Donnie Hart got a brief taste of the major leagues last month — a nine-day stint with the major league club that taught him a lot — and after being sent back down to the minors, the sidearm reliever wanted to get back.

On Friday, Hart was back in an Orioles uniform, summoned from Double-A Bowie to the West Coast to help with the bullpen's season-long struggles against left-handed hitters. Come game time, Hart made it onto the mound and retired three lefties and a switch-hitter in 1 1/3 perfect innings.


"You always, whenever you get sent down, you're trying to do everything possible to get back up there," Hart said. "… But it felt really good to have that conversation with the manager down there [at Double-A Bowie] and be able to come up here."

Hart is an unconventional pitcher, which plays well with manager Buck Showalter's desire to mix and match in his bullpen. Opponents don't have a long book on Hart, so he can use that in his favor. That's one lesson he learned from his first time in the majors, when he tossed 2 2/3 scoreless innings.


"Just to get ahead," Hart said when asked about the lessons he's learned from his first major league stint. "A lot of these guys up here, they don't know me. I don't know them, so they're probably not going to go up there being real aggressive against me. So I did a really good job of that, of getting ahead of guys and really getting into pitcher's counts. That's the biggest thing for me, is to throw strike one and get ahead of those guys."

Hart also learned a recent lesson about giving up his own scouting report. In his last outing in Bowie, he allowed a home run to Richmond third baseman Ryder Jones, the first homer Hart allowed to a left-handed hitter this season. He hasn't allowed a homer to a lefty in his first 45 1/3 innings at Bowie

But Hart said he talked to Jones at the Eastern League All-Star Game and conceded he probably told the Giants prospect too much information about his pitching approach to lefties.

"He got me," Hart said.