04/01/09 5:36 PM ET
Guthrie looking forward to fresh start
O's ace frustrated with spring results but confident things will change
By Spencer Fordin / MLB.com
Jeremy Guthrie made his final preparatory start on Wednesday and got hit hard again, swelling his ERA to 10.57 for Spring Training and raising concerns about his ability to be ready in five days.
"Certainly, there should be a concern -- I haven't gotten anybody out," said Guthrie. "Execution-wise, I've actually been relatively pleased. I just can't seem to get any breaks. Some good pitches are getting hit [and] all the bad ones are being hit. If people want to be concerned, they can be. I personally don't get worried about it.
"I personally won't be concerned going forward, but that's not ignoring the performance."
At this point, that would be hard to do. Guthrie hasn't pitched to the best of his abilities in any forum this spring, including his brief foray with Team USA in the World Baseball Classic. The right-hander got torched for eight earned runs in less than four innings during that tourney and hasn't been able to find his rhythm since.
In fact, if you add his disparate lines together, the numbers only get worse. Guthrie has worked 19 total innings this spring and has allowed 26 earned runs. The former first-round Draft pick said that he has noticed that his velocity is markedly down, but he also said he's happy with the way his breaking pitches have progressed.
"I'd like to be in a better spot," he said. "I'd like to have thrown better. I'd like to have gotten a few more innings and gotten the pitch-count up higher. But as far as my pitches, I'm feel as close as I've ever felt in any of the other springs. It's just a matter of getting the confidence, getting going and getting people out consistently."
"We're used to seeing him one way," added pitching coach Rick Kranitz. "If he's ready to go, it's just like we talked about with Koji [Uehara]. If Koji feels ready and says he's ready, he's ready in his mind. It's such a mental game. If he feels ready and he's not concerned about it, I'm not concerned about it either. We'll just move on."
Guthrie, who logged 19 quality starts last season, is still in line to start on Opening Day. And he said Wednesday that even if the World Baseball Classic was a reason for his struggles -- and he made clear that he doesn't believe it was -- he'd still make the same decision to participate in it over and over again.
"My preparation hasn't gone well, but I would do that 100 out of 100 times -- with the same results," Guthrie said of the tourney. "I really enjoyed it. It was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity [and] I'll take whatever comes with it. I don't blame my time there. If I pitched well there, my innings would've been fine.
"I don't think it's so much the World Baseball Classic as much as it is Jeremy Guthrie."
For much of the spring, the Orioles have looked at Guthrie and Uehara as the two pitchers they don't have to worry about. They've deliberately gone about populating the back end of their rotation in the hope that their two veterans will figure things out on their own, and at this point, they see no reason to deviate from that philosophy.
"Spring Training is over. For him, we'll turn the page and get him ready for Opening Day," said manager Dave Trembley. "He'll pitch on Opening Day and we have every reason to believe that he'll be better."
"I think if you look all through Spring Training, you'll find the numbers are undesirable," Kranitz said. "I've said all along that he needs to get into his rhythm. And that's the one thing the tournament does. You're at one level, and then all of a sudden you try to peak out, and now you're back to coming back down."
Spencer Fordin is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.