SARASOTA, Fla. -- What's next for Kevin Gausman? Could Sunday have been his last appearance with the Orioles before heading to Minor League camp?
Gausman didn't know anything for certain about his next appearance, and manager Buck Showalter said the Orioles haven't decided on anything regarding where he'll start the year.
One thing's for certain, and it became even more clear after Gausman struck out eight Pirates hitters in four innings on Sunday: He's made quite an impression on the Orioles and looks as comfortable as he says he's felt this spring.
"It's been fun. It's been awesome. It's been a little different than last year," Gausman said. "I kind of feel like this was really my first Spring Training. Last year, I just kind of felt like, it was every single day I came to the park, I was like, 'This is probably the day I'll go down,' and then, staying around a little bit longer than I thought, and I was pitching well last year.
"This year more than anything, I came into camp wanting to be in great shape, put on some weight in the offseason, and just wanted to hit the ground running."
Gausman said he felt "herky-jerky" as he began Sunday's outing, and that resulted in a leadoff homer by Starling Marte, a walk to Travis Snider and a well-struck double from Andrew McCutchen. But Gausman got it under control from then on out, striking out three straight hitters to strand the runners and escape the jam.
"I liked the way he came back," Showalter said. "Most of the time, [Gausman] cocks his arm, but he came back and made some good pitches. He's going to get that a lot. He got it at Yankee Stadium last year. They can ambush him early. Guys can turn around a bullet up here. He's getting a better feel for slowing guys down."
Gausman only gave up one hit the rest of the way, finishing the day with eight strikeouts, two walks and three hits allowed in four innings. The 23-year-old right-hander owns a 2.45 ERA in Grapefruit League play, and he believes he's left Showalter, pitching coach Dave Wallace and bullpen coach Dom Chiti a good look at what he's capable of.
"I definitely think that, and also Dom and Dave, they haven't seen me in person until this spring," Gausman said. "It's kind of big when you have a new pitching coach and a new bullpen coach. Everything kind of starts over. Things that happened last year, they do matter, but not very much in their eyes."