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Orioles' Guthrie Is a Pleasant Surprise
Guthrie made 16 appearances with the Indians over three seasons, and he felt like every outing was an audition to stay in the majors. It wore on him. He compiled a 6.08 ERA in 37 innings with Cleveland, making just one start.
But with Class AAA Buffalo, his talent remained evident, especially to Dave Hollins, the man most responsible for Guthrie landing in Baltimore. Hollins spent 12 seasons in the majors before becoming a scout with the Orioles, based in Buffalo.
Scouting other Class AAA teams, Hollins saw Guthrie pitch a half-dozen times. He watched Guthrie hit 94 mph on his radar gun into the eighth inning, watched him throw three "plus" pitches, a fastball that reached 97, a curve and slider.
His evaluation was easy: He thought Guthrie would be a big-league starter one day. When Hollins noticed Cleveland made Guthrie available on waivers, "it was the quickest I moved in years to make a phone call," he said.
Before the Orioles could claim him, Tampa Bay and Kansas City had to decline. The Orioles were surprised, and thrilled, when both teams did.
The more they learned, the happier they became. Guthrie was class valedictorian at Ashland High in Oregon, then a sociology major at Stanford. On occasion, he still thumbs through a college textbook on negotiation and rational thinking. He teaches Spanish to his 3-year-old daughter Avery and newborn son Hudson. "It's just great," Guthrie said. "I wish I had known another language growing up."
At a recent game, Guthrie wanted to sign autographs and chat with a church group that was seated in the upper deck at Camden Yards. Guthrie asked a team official how to find them from the clubhouse.
"Why don't you wait, we'll send someone up there for you," came the response.
"No, that's fine," Guthrie said. "I'll find them myself."
Guthrie got directions, found the group and signed autographs. "You don't find many ballplayers walking by themselves to the upper deck," Duquette said.
"He's the kind of guy you want your sister to go out with," Hollins said.
Guthrie has come a long way from his life in Spain, when he spent 12 hours a day knocking on doors and meeting people on the street, telling anyone who'd listen about his religion. The experience steeled him for tough times and humbled him for good ones. Lately, he's needed the latter far more.
"Do we know for sure what kind of pitcher he's going to be?" Duquette said. "No, but it's clear we could have the makings of something special."