SARASOTA, FL– Baltimore Orioles reliever Troy Patton believes that last year’s magical success was no fluke.
Patton was part of a young group of players who won a lot of one-run and extra inning games, leading the Orioles to the post-season for the first time since 1997.
A big reason for the playoff run, Patton believes, was manager Buck Showalter, and the job he did with the bullpen.
“I think a whole lot of the success we had, has to do with coaching,” said the 6-foot-1 left-hander. “I think Buck Showalter does an amazing job as our manager and knowing everyone’s personality. The bullpen he assembled, was very unexpected.
“No one predicted the bullpen to be as strong as it was last year, he had confidence in us because he knew our personalities and our abilities and took a chance on us. “
The Houston native was drafted by his hometown Astros, in the ninth round of the 2004 draft, and experienced something he said most prospects do not go through.
“It was great because they gave me a suite to the game, they gave me an owners box, and I got to throw out a first pitch at the game [after being drafted],” Patton said, sitting in the patio sun at the spring training facility. “So they sweetened the deal up to where I felt very special about that day.”
While his days with the Astros were short-lived, Patton continued to work on his game and finally got the chance to pitch on a day-to-day basis when the Orioles traded for him as part of a 2007 package, sending Miguel Tejada the other way.
Unfortunately for Patton, he spent the entire 2008 season on the disabled list after tearing his left labrum (shoulder).
Move to the Bullpen
When healthy, it was off to the bullpen for the life-time starter.
“Being in the bullpen has been somewhat of a blessing for me,” he said. “I was a guy who dwelled on the situation that was at hand
“Whenever I was starting a game I would dwell on it and there was nothing I could do about it because I was still starting. When I am in the bullpen, I don’t know when im pitching, so there is more of an element of surprise whenever I get called into the game and less anxiety. “
Not only has the bullpen been a blessing for Patton, but also being a part of that comradery and the looseness of it has been important to him.
“We have a really loose atmosphere,” he said. “it’s a great situation to be in. We play so many games in this sport and if you are serious in every game, I feel you would be mentally spent after 100 games.
“We try to approach every day the same, business as usual but we have lighthearted environment of the whole situation.”
While many pundits around baseball still do not believe in the Orioles squad, Patton and his team love that one-versus-the-world mentality.
“I don’t think there is any more pressure on us,” said the Houston native. “You have to understand that the national media still does not expect big things from us. They never will until it happens year-after-year.
“I think our ownership is trying to show that we don’t need to spend a lot of money on free agents, just draft good ball players within, bring them up and then pay them when they’ve earned it.
“That is what we will have to lean on in the future.”