ST. PETERSBURG -- Regardless of how Dylan Bundy fared in his first Major League start, Orioles manager Buck Showalter noted in the days leading up to Sunday that it was "all good things" and a no-lose situation for the young righty.
So Sunday's 5-2 loss to the Rays will be viewed as just that: a stepping stone for the 23-year-old Bundy, who went 3 1/3 innings.
"He's got a good arm. Obviously, we know that," Showalter said of Bundy. "He got a couple of pitches they blocked the other way. [Evan] Longoria ambushed him for one. It's all a part of the process."
The Orioles rookie, who hadn't thrown more than 57 pitches all year, gave up four runs -- three homers -- on five hits and three walks. Bundy threw 70 pitches in his starting debut.
"The Rays are aggressive and were looking to get on that fastball," he said. "One ball, I think, was on the ground, so that's not very good from a starter. I've got to work on movement of it and getting the two-seam over the plate and keep the ball down. "
Part of the Opening Day bullpen, Bundy has a 3.08 ERA in 22 relief appearances with the Orioles this season. He was the No. 4 overall pick in the 2011 Draft and entered the game having held opponents to three earned runs with 23 strikeouts over his past 20 1/3 innings.
This is Bundy's first full season since Tommy John in 2013, and the O's have essentially treated him as a starter, giving him off multiple days between outings.
"He's thinking like a pitcher; he's not thinking about a lot of things that have been challenging him," Showalter said. "Now, it's about the competition, trying to give us a good chance to win. More times than not, giving up four, we'll be in that game a little bit more than we were today."
There's nothing definitive on when Bundy will start again, though the righty hopes he can get deeper into the game next time out.
"I think that was the pitch count today, 70, 75 depending on how it went," Bundy said. "I got to it pretty early, which hopefully next time I can go more innings than that. Fastball command has to be better, and I'll work on it."
Added catcher Caleb Joseph: "He looked really calm to me. You could tell he was really amped up. My palm is still killing me, but I think for the most part, he probably wants to take back a few pitches, a couple walks there. Usually, he's had pinpoint command, and sometimes in this situation, you might have a little more -- I don't want to say jitters -- good energy, excitement, it might pull the ball, yank it a little bit. He looked fine to me. His stuff was crisp today. Today is not going to be an everyday occurrence for him."