Baker believes the best is coming
SARASOTA, Fla. — Bryan Baker sees a glimmer of good through the pile of bad spring stats.
Baker has made six show appearances and allowed runs in five of them. Nine overall and 11 hits in 5 2/3 innings. A serious problem if he was fighting for his professional life if he hadn’t become a trusted, high-level aide for the Orioles last summer.
“I’m trying to focus on the positives of how good I’m feeling right now coming back from outing to outing which is better than ever. So I’m trying to focus on that and I’m kind of excited about the fact that I’m throwing a bunch of strikes right now,” Baker said yesterday morning.
“I think the rest will take care of itself.”
Baker pulled out the first two Twins batters on Friday and served a home run to Kyle Farmer on a day that saw the ball fly out of Hammond Stadium. So close to a clean inning.
“I think it’s getting better and better,” he said. “Usually it’s like one pitch per outing where I’m like, ‘Ah, I wish I had that back now,’ which is a lot better than wishing you had 10 back where you’re walking people and give out free tickets.
“I think the damage in the one space I leave over the middle will kind of even out and eventually they’ll start hitting people instead of going over the fence or finding the hole. I think those numbers will probably even out eventually but I’m better off being in the zone and trying to avoid the guys so I try to find that first and then make sure I’m able throwing strikes with every pitch that I know is going to play better, especially as the season goes on with all the scouting reports these guys have. Being able to mix it up will be important later in the season. So, I think that’s going to be big.”
Manager Brandon Hyde offered Baker his support yesterday when I asked him the number of responders and tried to gauge the level of concern.
There was nobody. Not a trace.
“The fastball speed was there (Friday),” Hyde said. “I just made a bad pitch with the change. The cutter slider was better, so those are positives. He’ll also have a few more gigs to get as hot as possible before we break up.
In other words, Baker is on the team and preparing for the season. Security that only came to him when he registered a 3.49 ERA in 66 games last year and a 2.70 ERA and 1,100 WHIP in the second half.
Hyde didn’t bite yesterday when asked to calculate the number of vacancies in the bullpen, but Baker appears safe at home and away.
“It can work backwards sometimes, honestly,” he said. “You have some really good games in the beginning and you don’t get to work on some difficult parts. Or you fight a little and learn from it. Where if you’re just driving around this time of year it usually comes back to bring you back at some point where you get into a situation you haven’t been in before and then you kind of have to relearn how to work through some adversity.
“I’d rather have slightly better results now, but I think that’s part of the process. I think eventually it will sort itself out.”
Dig out of an exhibition hole and dig out the positives e.g. B. No walks in the last three appearances after giving up four in the first three games.
“As long as it stays that way, I think it’ll get better,” Baker said. “But just from a content perspective, it’s actually pretty good. I’m also ahead of many guys. I’m really trying to find that way to get out that fast where you end up saving your own arm and later in the year these guys remaining balls where you can roll through an inning in 12 pitches. You will have long-term success.”
The Orioles are playing split-squad games today, with a trip to Tampa to face the Yankees and a home game against the Pirates. Tyler Wells leaves and Kyle Gibson stays in Sarasota.
Spenser Watkins will come out of the bullpen in one of those games.
Ryan O’Hearn returned to the lineup yesterday after a week’s absence, going 0-for-2 before being substituted. He’s getting more At-bats today.