Veteran left-handed pitcher Mark Hendrickson had plenty of time to do some soul searching last season as he did not throw one pitch in a Major League game. Hendrickson was 1-0 with a 5.73 earned run average in 2011 before the Baltimore Orioles cut ties with him. He’s been a starting pitcher for most of his time in the majors with a career earned run average of 5.03. There’s nothing too striking there that would attract a 39-year-old veteran pitcher to a big league club.
Orioles pitching coach Rick Adair seems to think there may be something the 6 foot 9 lefty can offer to the Birds this season. Adair is working with Hendrickson on his delivery. With success, he could make the team as a left-handed setup man. All Hendrickson has to do is adapt to his new submarine delivery after an entire career of a completely different style. Sounds easy, right?
Surprisingly, Hendrickson has done very well thus far into Spring Training. In four appearances, he has a 2.45 earned run average and has given up only one walk to go with four strikeouts in 3.2 innings pitched. Statistics aside, he has a couple other things going well for him. The Orioles do not currently have a set left-handed setup man in their bullpen and had only one lefty in relief for most of last season until Brian Matusz was moved there. Also, top reliever Darren O’Day was able to show how dominant a side-armed pitcher can be from the right side. This may bode well for Hendrickson doing this from the left side.
There are still a couple weeks left in camp, but one has to believe that if Hendrickson continues to show he can get outs and throw strikes every time he takes the hill, he is a great choice for manager Buck Showalter to make the trip back to Baltimore in April.