Jeremy Guthrie and the Baltimore Orioles are doing just fine without each other.
Guthrie lost 60 games over a four-year stretch with the Orioles before being traded to Colorado in February 2012 for pitchers Jason Hammel and Matt Lindstrom. On Thursday, he was back in Baltimore for the first time, poised to face his former team as a member of the Kansas City Royals.
Revenge did not factor, simply because Guthrie harbors no resentment toward the Orioles.
“I’ll just be excited to be on the mound here again,” he said Wednesday. “Great ballpark with great fans. To be able to compete against friends and former teammates, it will be fun.”
Guthrie broke into the majors with Cleveland in 2004 and sporadically was used before being picked up by Baltimore on a waiver claim in January 2007. He immediately became the Orioles’ workhorse, starting at least 30 games in five consecutive seasons for the struggling club. But after losing 17 games for the second time in three years, the right-hander was shipped to Colorado.
At the time and to this day, Guthrie believes the Orioles did the right thing.
“That’s a trade I would have made in a heartbeat,” he said. “I don’t think a person in the world would have blamed them for making that deal.”
Hammel immediately became the ace of the Baltimore staff. He played a huge role in the Orioles’ playoff push last year and was their opening day starter this season. Lindstrom, meanwhile, went 1-0 with a 2.72 ERA in 34 appearances before being dealt in August to Arizona for Joe Saunders.
And Guthrie? After going 3-9 with Colorado, he was traded to Kansas City in July.
“I didn’t hold up my end of the deal for the Rockies, so for them it ended up being a very poor trade,” he said.
It sure turned out well for Guthrie, though. He went 5-3 with Kansas City over the final nine weeks of the 2012 season and this year is 4-0 with a 2.40 ERA. Make that 5-0 after Guthrie pitched well Thursday night to defeat the Orioles.
“He’s far better than I ever imagined he was,” Royals manager Ned Yost said. “He still has a great fastball at 93 mph, he can sink it, he can cut it. I just think he’s comfortable in his surroundings.”
Guthrie loved being part of the Orioles but appears to finally have reached his full potential at age 34.
“My time in Baltimore was a huge plus, just wonderful,” he said. “I was able to learn and got a chance to start in the major leagues, something I didn’t get in Cleveland. So, I have very fond memories of all the time here. I gave everything I had and enjoyed every bit of it.”
After flopping in Colorado, Guthrie found happiness in Kansas City. He signed a new three-year, $25-million contract with the Royals in November.
“It was a place I wanted to go,” he said. “They gave me a very fair offer, so for me it was just a perfect scenario.”
Much has changed for Guthrie and the Orioles since that trade – all of it good.
“Jeremy did some good things for us here in Baltimore, and we were able to acquire some people that could help us through his abilities,” Orioles manager Buck Showalter said. “He’s having a solid year, he’s coming off a great start, so I wish him well ... after he leaves here.”