FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. (AP) -As a member of the Atlanta Braves last season, Lance Cormier pitched seven innings of six-hit ball in a victory over the Florida Marlins. In retrospect, he couldn't have picked a better time for his finest performance of the year.
Rick Kranitz was pitching coach of the Marlins at the time. Kranitz now fills that role with the Baltimore Orioles, which means he will help determine whether Cormier heads north with the team at the end of spring training.
That works out well for Cormier, who would rather be judged by someone who's seen him at his best than to let his unsightly 63.00 ERA determine his fate.
Cormier agreed to a minor league contract with the Orioles in January and is among a handful of candidates trying to fill out Baltimore's unsettled bullpen. In two appearances, the right-hander surrendered seven earned runs, six hits and two walks. He has gotten exactly three outs.
``I'm not happy about it, but I'd rather go through it the first two games than the last two,'' Cormier said. ``Who knows? Maybe I'll get three up, three down next time.''
That, of course, would merely whittle Cormier's ERA down to 31.50. But the 27-year-old has an edge in that he is one of only a handful of pitchers that Kranitz knew before camp began.
``He said at the beginning, when we started working, 'You threw a really good game against us last year,''' Cormier said. ``Now, all of a sudden he's over here. There are some guys here he's never seen pitch, but he's seen me and knows what I can do.''
That could explain why Kranitz dismissed Cormier's first two outings spring training. Cormier entered in the ninth inning against Washington on Sunday with a 9-5 lead and was charged with five runs without recording a single out.
``Run-wise, you can say they were tough outings. But he threw the ball much better his second time. He just didn't get results,'' Kranitz said. ``He being a veteran guy, he needs to be able to trust what he does. What I don't want him to do is try and change something because he's not getting the results.''
Cormier launched his major league career with Arizona in 2004 and pitched parts of two seasons before being traded to Atlanta. The Braves used him primarily as a starter, and although he fared well in his outing against Florida, Cormier was cut loose after going 2-6 with a 7.09 ERA in 10 appearances.
Cormier was uncertain about his next step until he had a conversation with Orioles manager Dave Trembley.
``He said there would be an open competition here, and he's a man of his word,'' Cormier said.
Cormier would probably feel better about his chances if his ERA wasn't 63.00, but he's still got plenty of time to capitalize on the first impression he made on Kranitz during that game in Florida last year.
``You have to look through the numbers and see what's best for the club,'' Kranitz said. ``Absolutely, he's got an opportunity to play here. We'd be crazy if we based things on two outings.''
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