O's young pitchers learning confidence is key

O's young pitchers learning confidence is key

MINNEAPOLIS -- With the Orioles' young pitchers working hard -- and rightfully so -- on mechanical adjustments and being able to repeat their deliveries, one of the less talked-about aspects of their growth comes in knowing they can pitch in the Major Leagues.

"It's more of a mindset than it is mechanics for me," said right-hander Chris Tillman, who, like all of the Orioles' young pitchers, has struggled with consistency in the Majors. "I think at this level, it's more of a mental game. You go down to Double-A, Triple-A, you can work on your stuff, but here's it's more having the mindset. You've got to know you can do it. I'm very confident in my ability."

Zach Britton -- who issued a career-high six walks in Tuesday's season debut -- admitted after the game that he was tentative at times and didn't trust his stuff, which kept him getting behind in the count.

The 24-year-old lefty, along with Tillman, who is also 24, will both get at least one more start and the chance to show that they can help stabilize the team's uncertain rotation. Starters Jake Arrieta and Brian Matusz are currently in Triple-A Norfolk and manager Buck Showalter said he spoke with director of pitching development Rick Peterson on Wednesday, picking his brain about their progress, as well as the group of youngsters as a whole.

"We talked about that [mental aspect], that there's a lot of things that go into [having success in the Majors]," Showalter said. "You gain a lot of confidence by having a good delivery and mechanics. You can get yourself back on task, but the baseball rules don't allow a pitching coach to go out there after every pitch.

"Guys have to be their own pitching coach out there a little bit, too. I think Tilly and Britton will both pitch better as we go forward. I talked with Zach today a little. He's in a good frame of mind. He's going to be alright."

The Orioles are looking to add another starting pitcher, but as executive vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette said Wednesday, there are expectations within the organization that their current crop of young pitchers can right the ship.

"They should be competitive," Duquette said. "They all have the skills, they have the equipment to be Major League pitchers. I don't see any reason why they shouldn't be. We've got a lot of baseball left to go, but I don't see why these pitchers ... I don't see anything holding them back from being competitive Major Leaguers.

"Whatever they need to do to be at a competitive level, that's really what needs to be done. Each one of them has things they need to do to be a competitive Major Leaguer. They all have an awareness of what it is. We got consistent feedback from the hitters, and making consistent pitches is what gets hitters out. We see flashes, but the inconsistency is frustrating."

"The way I pitched isn't going to get it done," Tillman said of Monday's 2/3 of an inning outing. "I need to be more consistent, like I was in Seattle. And you got to give your team a chance to win every time. Not just one time, or two times, but every time."

Showalter spent a long time on Wednesday afternoon with Britton in his office and said another pitfall with young players is putting too much emphasis on being in the Major Leagues.

"You can't put this [level] on too big a pedestal, either," Showalter said. "I was talking to [rookie position player Ryan] Flaherty about it today. There are things they've got to do to be successful, and you don't want them to get timid. You can want something too much. You've just got to stay in the process -- the pitch-to-pitch execution and the at-bat -- and move on."