SARASOTA, Fla. — Heading into his third season with the Baltimore Orioles, right-handed pitcher Darren O’Day looks to continue to his winning ways.
The submarine delivery that O’Day has employed since his days at the University of Florida has served him well in his first two years in Baltimore, compiling a 5-3 record with a 2.18 ERA last season.
But there is always room for improvement.
O’Day and the Orioles have sought out the help of former Orioles sidearm pitcher Todd Frohwirth to help the current Oriole master the changeup.
“I’ve worked on it, I’ve tried many different grips and approaches,” O’Day said on Thursday at Ed Smith Stadium in Sarasota, Fla. “Yesterday was the best overall day I have had of it.”
O’Day is excited about the prospect of adding another weapon to his arsenal, especially hoping to stifle the left-handed batters that hit a combined .309 against him last season.
“It’s like teaching an old dog new tricks,” O’Day said. “You don’t want to sacrifice what you already have as a player. I don’t want to jeopardize my other three pitches for this one, but if I can get all four of them working I’m a better arm to face these hitters.”
Last season O’Day, a native of Jacksonville Fla., served mainly as the team’s setup man. His ability to focus on the task at hand has enabled him to contribute to his team’s success.
Being called upon at any time can be a tough task but through time he has found the best way to prepare for the moment.
“It takes a lot of time and practice. Usually as a reliever you have an idea of when you’re going to go into the game,” said O’Day. “In the first four or five innings I won’t be called upon so that’s when we are allowed to screw around.”
The 6-foot-4, 220-pound O’Day is aware of the negative connotation around the phrase ‘screw around’, but says it is a necessary aspect of the job.
“It’s the anticipation of the excitement of getting into the game and working in that adrenaline situation, you kind of need to let loose.”
Around the end of the fifth inning of any game, O’Day has a stretching routine that allows him to settle down, get loose and focus on accomplishing the job he is asked to do.
O’Day’s preparation is essential to his ability to contribute to the success of the team when his name is called.
“Managers want to know what they’re going to get when they put you into the game,” said O’Day. “That has been my focus for the first two or three weeks and now I am working on my changeup.
“That is going to be my priority while maintaining the other work that I’ve done so I know one way or the other I will be ready when the season starts.”
If it is truly the case that Wednesday was his best day of throwing the changeup in his career, then batters will have another pitch to concern themselves with when they come to the plate facing Darren O’Day.