Showalter feels Gamboa still has future with knuckleball

Showalter feels Gamboa still has future with knuckleball

JUPITER, Fla. - Although the Orioles optioned knuckleballer Eddie Gamboa to Triple-A Norfolk after Tuesday's game, manager Buck Showalter believes the future is bright for the 30-year-old righty.

Showalter has worked with several knuckleballers, including R.A. Dickey, during his long managing career. The same can be said for pitching coach Dave Wallace and bullpen coach Dom Chiti.

Dickey, the 2012 National League Cy Young Award winner, has actually spoken to Gamboa. Between Dickey and several other knuckleballers, the consensus is that it takes four to five years to get a feel for the pitch.

Gamboa is currently in his third year using it. He decided to throw a knuckleball when he couldn't get right-handed hitters out with two strikes.

"He's ahead of R.A.," Showalter said. "I was telling him yesterday, 'I went through this process with 2-3 of them and you're ahead of them believe it or not.' His knuckleball's quality, he's athletic, he has all the attributes to do it. Whether or not he does it, keeping it in his hand and keep throwing it. I just want him to know that -- we as an organization are not - when there are a couple of bad outings are not going to throw up our hands in the air. He's gotten a little better each year with it."

Upon the recommendation of Showalter, Gamboa will eliminate a couple of pitches and stick with a fastball, knuckleball and cutter.

Most importantly, Gamboa seems to have accepted the transition. Dickey was a failed starter in the Majors before making the switch. Gamboa has yet to debut in the big leagues. Over seven Minor League seasons, Gamboa is 42-41 with a 3.44 ERA. In 2014 with Triple-A Norfolk, he went 4-5 with a 4.06 ERA in 14 games (12 starts)

This spring, Gamboa surrendered six runs on five hits with two walks and a strikeout over three innings for an 18.00 ERA. Despite being sent down, he is still scheduled to pitch in Friday's Grapefruit League game against the Blue Jays.

"Keep the ball in his hand," Showalter said. "He missed 2-3 days. He's not going to make the clubhouse [this] spring. [He] is starting his third year with the knuckleball, basically. I think he's finally accepted that he's got to throw this knuckleball, and he had a lot of success doing it that way the last month or two of the [2014] season."

Christina DeNicola is a contributor to MLB.com This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.