CLEARWATER, Fla.— A revived Dylan Bundy is one of the keys to a successful Orioles season. Last year, Bundy slumped badly, allowing a major league-leading 41 home runs. He was 8-16 with a 5.45 ERA.
Manager Brandon Hyde and pitching coach Doug Brocail know that Bundy and Alex Cobb, who makes his first Grapefruit League start on Friday, must rebound in order for the Orioles to show some improvement.
Bundy made his first start of the spring on Thursday when he allowed a run on four hits in two innings with two strikeouts in the Orioles’ 5-5 tie with the Philadelphia Phillies.
During the fifth inning, when news broke that the Phillies and Bryce Harper had reached agreement on a record 13-year, $330 million contract, yells of “We got Bryce!” could be heard from the small crowd at Spectrum Field. Phillies manager Gabe Kapler said that fans alerted him to the news by sharing tweets on their phones.
Joey Rickard has known Harper for years, and when he left the game, he found out about the huge deal.
“We grew up kind of together,” Rickard said. “Our families know each other pretty well. So congratulations to him. Maybe he’ll take me out to dinner or something one of these days.”
In the second inning, before attention shifted to Harper’s contract, Bundy allowed singles to the first three batters, struck out Drew Butera and allowed a sacrifice fly to Austin Listi.
“Every time you have the bases juiced like that you just try to limit the damage and get out of there as quick as you can,” Bundy said. “But overall, just felt good in general. I was happy with it.”
Bundy joked that he was glad to escape the bases-loaded situation without giving up a home run.
“Yeah, you don’t want that to happen during the season, so, yeah, get them out of the way when you can,” Bundy said. “I told Hyder, I think I was 3-for-3 on homers in my first outing every year and I didn’t give one up, so it’s a good start.”
Bundy has had four pitching coaches during his relatively brief Orioles career, and said that Brocail is direct.
“Communication. Just keeps it honest with you,” Bundy said. “Just lets you know what you need to know. I don’t know how else to put it.”
Hyde said that there are many ways to try to reach Bundy and Cobb to encourage improvement.
“I think it’s a lot of different things, change of environment, change of coaching, maybe keys here and there,” Hyde said. “I think a lot of things go into a season that isn’t what you wanted it to be. Me and the staff just want to put in a great mindset, want to know we’re behind them obviously. I think so far, so good with both of those guys. Their attitudes are outstanding. They’re really pros, and they’ve done really well this camp.”
Bundy made his major league debut in September 2012 at age 19, and because of Tommy John surgery and its aftermath, didn’t make it back to the major leagues until 2016.
“As a starting pitcher, you take pride in that a lot, being able to take the ball every single time you’re supposed to take the ball,” Bundy said. “That way, you’re reliable and the team can count on you every five days.”
He doesn’t want to think about the Tommy John surgery that he underwent in June 2013.
“That was a long time ago,” Bundy said. “I try not to think about that stuff too much anymore. But, yeah, there were definitely times of that, but the last three years, knock on wood, I’ve felt pretty decent with my body and my arm, so you just got to keep pitching and take care of your shoulder and your elbow and doing all the things you need to do to stay on the field.”
Bundy said the key for a comeback season is simple.
“Locating the fastball,” Bundy said. “I think every pitcher in the league will tell you that. That’s the key thing. You’ve got to locate the fastball every time, and you can’t really make mistakes with your offspeed pitches when you’re ahead in the count. Even today, I had a little bit of trouble with that, getting ahead two strikes and then prolonging the at-bat, so, just things to work at.”
Hyde and Brocail haven’t gotten terribly specific in working with Bundy.
“Not a whole lot of that,” Bundy said. “We haven’t got too in-depth. They’re just laying their eyes on us right now and trying to get a feel on how everybody works and what they like to do.”
Hyde is confident Bundy and Cobb can have big seasons.
“We are looking for them to bounce back this year and have better years than last year, and I think they’re on the right track,” Hyde said.