"I didn't know who he was, to be honest with you, but I never would've imagined that he'd have this kind of arm strength, consistently throwing 93 to 97 miles an hour," Orioles first baseman Kevin Millar said. "He's been unbelievable."
His success has not surprised his former teammates in Cleveland, for whom Guthrie made one major league start and 16 appearances in parts of three seasons.
"He has got tremendous stuff, and you always knew he was going to put it together," said Indians All-Star center fielder Grady Sizemore, who came up through the minors with Guthrie. "It was just a matter of when."
Guthrie has benefited from working with pitching coach Leo Mazzone, but more than anything else, he has enjoyed starting every five days, knowing he is not auditioning for a role on the team. The common criticism of Guthrie had been that he overanalyzed everything, affecting his game plan and execution on the mound. He disagrees with that perception.
"I feel like the confidence has grown more," Guthrie said. "Right now, I'm just very comfortable with the idea that I can attack guys and my team is going to make good plays behind me. I don't think the change of scenery has necessarily helped me pitch better, but it's given me an opportunity. I had no opportunity had I gone with Cleveland to spring training. It would have taken two or three [injuries] for me to even have a chance."
Shapiro and his assistant GM, Chris Antonetti, called Guthrie during the All-Star break to congratulate him on his first half.
"No one felt good about taking him off the roster," Shapiro said. "He's definitely a guy where every single person in this organization is happy for his success."
Shapiro said Guthrie was the only player who has ever sent him and the Indians owner a thank-you note after he signed a contract.
Tammy Anderson, one of his teachers at Ashland High School in Oregon, said she recently was approached by a current student who was holding a copy of a newspaper article about Guthrie. When Guthrie heard of the student's interest, he asked Anderson to give the student his e-mail address and encourage him to write.
Anderson was one of about 40 family and friends who attended last week's game in Seattle, each coming to Safeco Field wearing a No. 46 Orioles T-shirt. Guthrie said he had been expecting maybe four or five people to show.
Those who know him well describe Guthrie as a perfectionist who doesn't like to deviate from his routine. Every time Guthrie is set to pitch on the road, he sizes up the mound a couple of days earlier and practices his delivery while using a towel to mimic the ball. Several times, grounds crew members, intent on getting the mound ready for the first pitch, have tried to hustle him off.
But as his close friend Smith learned long ago, Guthrie sees things to the end. The night before Guthrie's wedding, the two stayed up into the wee hours of the morning to settle a score in the video game Crossfire.
"He hates to lose," said Smith, a Southern California-based attorney. "We'd argue about who would win at basketball and it would be midnight and he'd want to go outside and settle it right there. I think he could have played QB at BYU. He's one of those guys that everybody hates because he's good at everything he does."
In his senior year at Ashland High, Guthrie was the Most Valuable Player for the football, basketball and baseball teams. He put up staggering numbers as a high school quarterback but was overshadowed by another quarterback in the state, Joey Harrington, who would go on to star at the University of Oregon on his way to an NFL career.
It is Guthrie's position as class valedictorian that makes him a target in the Orioles' clubhouse.
"Borderline nerdy," cracked Millar when asked to describe Guthrie. "He's a Stanford boy, probably the highest SAT scorer on the team. We were at L.A. City Junior College, where we could get in with a 700 SAT score. I was trying to write my name correctly, and this guy was doing trigonometry."
Guthrie is one class away from earning a sociology degree from Stanford. Ultimately, his goal is to get a job possibly designing sneakers for shoe giant Nike, which is headquartered in Oregon.
Guthrie has collected basketball shoes since he was in seventh grade and boasts of having 60 pairs of Air Jordans, about 45 of which are unworn. He even keeps the shoes that he had when he was younger, cleaning them regularly. In Seattle last week, Guthrie proudly walked around the clubhouse, showing off to teammates a new pair of sneakers he had just gotten.
"That's my passion," said Guthrie, an outdoorsman who goes biking daily and rides to Camden Yards from his place in the Inner Harbor and back on most game days. "I get excited about new shoes and stuff like that."