SARASOTA, Fla. -- After manager Buck Showaltermade it a point to tell the media following Tuesday's game, that pitcher Eddie Gamboa should be throwing more knuckleballs, the right-hander has pledged to make it more of a priority.
"I need to start doing it more," said Gamboa, who gave up a three-run homer and an RBI triple on fastballs in the Orioles' 15-2 loss to the Tigers. "I've been throwing it for two years now, so I should be able to have a good groove for it. That's my primary pitch and that's why I'm here. The more I can throw it, the better, and I know it's going to get better with more experience. I got beat yesterday with fastballs, which is a terrible situation. But in a weird way, I'm happy to kind of get through that experience so I can prepare myself for what's to come in the future. And that's going to be throwing as many knuckleballs as I can."
Gamboa, who has spent his entire career in the Orioles' organization, admitted it can be tough to break the habit of wanting to go with a fastball in certain situations.
"As a pitcher you always go to your comfort, and for me I've been throwing fastballs and changeups for 20 years now, so it's hard to go to something [that] you're unsure whether you can throw it for a strike or not," he said. "And for this spring that's what I'm going to have to do, get used to it and get comfortable with it. I've got to find a medium where I could throw the knuckleball as consistently as possible around the strike zone and that's going to be the ultimate goal for me this year and the future."
Gamboa has leaned on others while making the transition, speaking with Phil Niekro -- who came in and worked with him -- and has also had contact with Steven Wright and R.A. Dickey. He also praised the Orioles' coaching staff for their role in his development.
"The coaches we have here are unbelievable," Gamboa. "They have experience with knuckleballers. Mike Griffin's had a couple knuckleballers of his own so he can work with me. Even in the Minor Leagues with Blaine Beatty, he really helped me out when I was in Double-A Bowie. Everything's here. Same way with Showalter. He had R.A. Dickey for the longest time with the Rangers and that's why I'm here, to try to perfect that pitch and try to get out of my comfort zone a little bit and try to be the best I can be with the knuckleball."
Brittany Ghiroli is a reporter for MLB.com. Read her blog, Britt's Bird Watch, and follow her on Facebook and Twitter @britt_ghiroli. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.