Buck Showalter likes to say he currently has the best coaching staff he’s had in his managerial career. At the head of that class is Dave Wallace, the 68-year-old pitching coach.
Wallace doesn’t like to seek attention, but during his long career, he’s been credited with making some good pitchers great, and some mediocre ones better.
For now, the Orioles have four starters, all right-handed, and they’ve been linked with free agent left-hander Scott Kazmir, though they’ve also spoken to right-hander Yovani Gallardo and others.
“Everybody wants a left-handed starter,” Wallace said. “I would rather have a real quality big league starter than just to get any left-handed starter.”
Wallace knows that Chris Tillman and Miguel Gonzalez reverted last season.
“It always looks worse than it is. There were times last year when sometimes the ball didn’t bounce their way, especially Chris. I think Chris is a victim of a lot of things during the game,” Wallace said. “And then it works on you mentally a little bit. You’re looking for the negative.”
The Orioles will be allowing Kevin Gausman to pitch without restrictions in 2015. As Showalter said, the opponent will decide when Gausman leaves a game, not an innings limit.
“I think it’s time to take the kid gloves off him,” Wallace said. “His understanding of the game is so much better, his understanding of himself and what he needs to do.”
It’s likely that most of the pitchers Wallace works with in 2016 will be the same as 2015. Four of last season’s starters are back, and with Darren O’Day’s return, five of the relievers.
“It’s not 13 or 14 pitchers during the course of the season. You’re always looking for depth,” Wallace said. “That’s a conversation that’s ongoing every day. How can we be a little bit better? How can we get more depth if something happens out of the bullpen?”
The Orioles have added several left-handed relievers, and they recently signed another one. Jeff Beliveau, who has pitched 58 games with the Cubs and Rays in the last four seasons, was signed to a minor league contract.
After last season, his second with the Orioles, Wallace thought long and hard about whether to return for a third.
“I don’t know if I’ll ever retire, but I certainly considered doing something different,” Wallace said.
He enjoys developing pitchers and wants to spend time with his family, and says that Showalter was considerate of him as he deliberated.
“You wonder when you get down the road a little bit how long you’re going to do it. I still love the game,” Wallace said. “Seven o’clock, no one has more fun than I do.”
NOTES: Right-handed pitchers Dylan Bundy and Hunter Harvey top Baseball America’s Top 10 prospect list. Catcher Chance Sisco was third and third baseman Jomar Reyes fourth. They were followed by Mychal Givens, left-handed pitcher Chris Lee, shortstop Ryan Mountcastle, outfielder DJ Stewart and Mike Wright.
Besides Beliveau, whose signing was first reported by Baseball America, the Orioles re-signed right-handed pitcher Jason Stoffel, and signed left-hander Zack Dodson and outfielder Rubi Silva to minor league contracts.
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