SARASOTA, Fla. -- As pitchers and catchers report to Orioles spring training Feb. 13, Kevin Gausman is the unmistakable leader of the pitching staff.
Gausman, who was the fourth-overall pick in the 2012 draft, made his Orioles debut in 2013 and has started 106 games for the team, far more than anyone else currently on the roster.
"It's definitely a little weird and kind of different," the 27-year-old Gausman said. "If we don't sign anybody to the rotation, I'll be the longest-tenured [starting] pitcher on our team. So that's kind of weird to think about because I really haven't been around very long."
Gausman, who was the Orioles' only arbitration-eligible player who hadn't signed, agreed to terms on a one-year, $5.6 million deal Feb. 13.
Gausman and fellow right-hander Dylan Bundy are the only returning starters. The Orioles have 35 pitchers in camp and may sign some additional starters, but for now, there are no other proven major league starters.
Gausman, who was 11-12 with a 4.68 ERA last season, thinks he'll enjoy being the staff leader.
"I'm excited about that," Gausman said. "It's a new step, something I've always done on every team I've been on, but when you're 22 and get to the big leagues you are not going to be that guy. Not yet. I'm looking forward to it.
"… Just try to be a leader and do things the right way and hold everybody accountable. That's how you run a really good camp. I think Darren O'Day does a good job and Brad Brach is kind of that silent leader.”
Gausman and Bundy have been wondering who'll join them in the rotation. With so many free agents still available, the two may soon have company,
"I think everybody's surprised by the market right now," Gausman said. "I feel bad for the guys who are trying to get minor league deals and guys who are right there on the cusp, because they're just waiting. They're waiting for other guys. … You think about how many guys are still at home, it's pretty crazy, but I think we're kind of surrounded by a lot of young guys right now. … I used to be the one asking everyone where I was going. Now, they are asking me."
This year, Gausman will change his jersey number from 39 to 34 to honor the late Roy Halladay, the former Toronto Blue Jays and Philadelphia Phillies pitcher who was killed in a plane crash in November.
Gausman watched Halladay when he was a child in suburban Denver. Halladay was born in Denver.
"He was awesome," Gausman said. "He was a guy who kind of laid the groundwork for Colorado. I'd always watch all these guys from the big leagues pitch, and they were from Texas, Florida or California. I would always wonder, 'Man I don't know if I could do this'.
"He was the guy I would look at and say, 'Ok, 1. I can do it and 2. he's one of the best.' He was one guy I watched a lot. Sad that I didn't get to meet him before he passed. It's an unfortunate tragedy, but I think he did a lot for the game of baseball and state of Colorado."
Gausman joked about who has his number now.
"They gave Hunter Harvey my old locker and my old number. I don't know what that's about," Gausman said.
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