Kranitz tells Guthrie to relax

Pitching coach says starter was trying too hard vs. Yankees

April 30, 2010|By Jeff Zrebiec and Dean Jones Jr., The Baltimore Sun

Orioles pitching coach Rick Kranitz met with starter Jeremy Guthrie behind closed doors before Thursday night's game, urging the pitcher to relax and "control only what he can control."

The meeting came a day after Guthrie was hammered for seven runs (six earned) in just 42/3 innings against the New York Yankees. After the outing, a visibly shaken Guthrie apologized to teammates and Orioles fans, saying he was embarrassed by his performance. Guthrie declined to comment Thursday.

"I think he wants it real bad," Kranitz said.

"[On Wednesday] night, he tried way too hard. It's like I told him, ‘You have five starts, and four of them have been quality starts. Ninety percent, you take that just about every time.' You still have to be yourself when you're out there, and you can't let the situation control you. He got outside himself right away. I just think his delivery was too fast. When that happens, you start amping up. You do things you don't want to do."

Guthrie's demeanor was surprising considering he had pitched well in his first four starts but didn't get any victories, mostly because of little run support. Despite an 0-3 record and a 4.70 ERA, Guthrie's form had been one of the few bright spots in a dismal Orioles start.

"Wins and losses you really can't control unless you're throwing shutouts all the time," Kranitz said.

"One of the things you can control is the way you throw the baseball, your demeanor, how you go about your business. I think when you're trying to get your first win, you still have to be who you are and not try to overthrow to get the job done."

Kranitz understands Girardi

Kranitz acknowledged that he doesn't appreciate outsiders commenting negatively about his pitchers as was the case when New York manager Joe Girardi, frustrated by Guthrie's plunking of Jorge Posada on Wednesday, said of the Orioles starter: "I wish he had better command in there."

Kranitz, who was Girardi's pitching coach with the Florida Marlins, defended Guthrie but said he understood his former boss' frustration.

"Nobody wants their guys to get hit, and [Guthrie has] hit a few of their guys," Kranitz said.

"It's never been on purpose. He misfired bad. He tried to throw the ball away and he overthrew it, and basically he just yanked it all the way across the zone. That's just a total misfire. I've known Joe a long time, and, absolutely, you get frustrated when your guys are getting hit, just like we would if we were getting hit."

Guthrie has hit 17 batters since the 2009 season, and nine of them have been Yankees.

"It's somewhat odd, but it might be a case where he's trying too hard," said Girardi, whose team opposes Guthrie again Monday.

MacPhail, Ripken watch game

Cal Ripken Jr. was a guest of president of baseball operations Andy MacPhail for the Orioles' 8-3 loss to the Yankees on Wednesday night. The two watched the game from MacPhail's suite and then headed toward the Warehouse after the game.

"I invited him out to a game, and he came," MacPhail said. "That's it. That's all you're going to get from me."

Ripken attends a handful of Orioles games each season, but the Hall of Famer's presence with MacPhail is a positive sign for those hoping that one of the franchise's greatest players takes on a bigger role with the organization.

FoxSports.com reported this month that Ripken and MacPhail had met and discussed a position in the Orioles' front office but that team owner Peter Angelos rejected the plan. Angelos denied the report.

Since the report came out, Ripken has dined with Angelos and acknowledged having discussions with the Orioles about a more prominent role.

Norfolk next stop for Uehara

Orioles relief pitcher Koji Uehara said he's physically ready to return to the majors but needs to get stronger mentally to ensure that he doesn't suffer similar injuries in the future.

"There's nothing much I can do to avoid it," Uehara said through interpreter Jiwon Bang. "If I think too much, then I'm going to injure other places. I don't want to do that."

Uehara, who is on the disabled list with a strained left hamstring, tossed a scoreless inning with Double-A Bowie on Thursday against Erie, walking one batter and throwing eight of his 13 pitches for strikes. He also pitched a scoreless frame for Bowie on Tuesday.

Uehara will pitch one inning for Triple-A Norfolk on Saturday and could make at least one more start for the Tides before the Orioles activate him from the DL. Trembley said Uehara will be a "one-inning guy" when he returns.

jeff.zrebiec@baltsun.com

dean.jones@baltsun.com

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