May 25, 2013; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Baltimore Orioles pitcher Steve Johnson (52) throws against the Toronto Blue Jays at the Rogers Centre. Baltimore defeated Toronto 6-5. John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports

Baltimore Orioles: Using Past Stars to Help Pitchers

The Baltimore Orioles are using a wide pool of talent this year, signing guys with MLB experience and giving them a shot to make the roster.  But that is not the only way that the team is taking a ‘more is better’ approach.

Another way is in helping to coach and tutor the pitchers.  And let’s face it; the Orioles don’t exactly have a sterling record for developing pitching recently.  Quick, name the most recent Orioles farmhand to be a good major league pitcher.

Who did you come up with?  Brian Matusz? Daniel Cabrera? Sidney Ponson?  Not exactly great names.  You still have to go all the way back to Mike Mussina to find a pitcher who came up with the O’s and was very successful on the major league level.

Of course, the Orioles have Dave Wallace and Dom Chiti as the new pitching coach and bullpen coach.  Their fresh eyes will hopefully help make an impact on the bevy of young pitchers the Birds have, so they can reach their potential.

But those two aren’t the only ones helping to coach up the pitchers.  There is also Phil Niekro, who has helped teach Zach Clark, Eddie Gamboa and Zach Staniewicz the knuckleball.  This came last spring training at the request of Buck Showalter.

Last week, at the Baltimore Orioles’ mini-camp, Bryan Harvey, father to Orioles’ first round draft pick Hunter Harvey, was in camp. Harvey, who had several good seasons as a closer, was helping to teach several players, including Steve Johnson how to throw an effective splitter.

Another former first round pick of the Orioles, Ben McDonald, has also been known to be a figure in camp, talking to the pitchers and helping out as necessary.  Jim Palmer is another, a former star and Hall of Famer who will be at Spring Training and the pitchers can use to bounce ideas off of.

Despite often being overlooked, coaching remains one of the most important parts of sports.  Give a player the right coach, whether it is Tom Brady, Russell Wilson, Drew Brees, three football players who many thought would never be good, and they can become stars.

Orioles fans need to hope all the knowledge and talent at their disposal pays off, because as I have repeated over and over again…this year it is all about the pitching.

Tags: Baltimore Orioles Ben McDonald Brian Harvey Mike Mussina Steve Johnson

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