Justin Duchscherer doesn't know much about the Orioles. He's the latest guy to register for a crash course.
"The last time I pitched against them," he said, "they had Aubrey Huff."
So it's been a few years.
"I know Jeremy Guthrie," Duchscherer said during today's conference call. "I've seen him throw. He has a phenomenal arm. And I watched Brian Matusz pitch against us, and from what I saw, I thought he was pretty wise beyond his years on the mound. He's like me a lot as a pitcher, as far as moving the ball around and knowing how to pitch."
Duchscherer also knows that the Orioles just reached agreement with Vladimir Guerrero on a one-year, $8 million deal. More offense for a pitcher who appreciates the extra run support.
"This isn't a knock on the A's, but they've always been known as a pitching team when I was there, so you feel like if you give up two or three runs, you're going to have a battle on your hands," he said. "When you have a decent offense and you give up two or three runs, you still feel like you have a decent chance to come back and you're not out of the game. That takes a lot of pressure off. You don't feel like you have to be perfect.
"Just looking at (the Orioles') lineup on paper, it looks like they'll be able to put up runs and take the pressure off the pitching staff."
Duchscherer made it clear early in the free-agency process that he wanted to be part of a rotation. He's made only 32 starts among his 224 major league appearances, but his bullpen days are done.
Or so he hopes.
"With my hip history, if I was to throw today, I'm going to have a little bit of stiffness and soreness," he said. "As a starter, I have three or four days to get it out of there. That's the injury part. And the stuff I bring to the mound is conducive to being a starter. I throw four pitches, I throw to all locations. And the game I pitch is more of a thinking man's game.
"As a reliever, a lot of guys who come out of the bullpen are stuff guys who can come out and just blow guys away and overpower hitters. If I'm off, I'm going to get hit a lot harder than a guy throwing 96 (mph) without his best stuff. I feel like mentally and physically, it just matches up better with my abilities."