BALTIMORE -- The word of the day was “mithridate.”
Ever since early in spring training, Dylan Bundy has had a daily homework assignment, handed down to him by professor Darren O'Day, the de facto leader of the Baltimore Orioles' bullpen. Each day, Bundy is required to learn a new word that’s spit out by an app on his phone. Then he must report to O’Day, telling him the meaning of the word and using it in a sentence.
Thursday, the word happened to be “mithridate," which is apparently some kind of semi-mythical antidote. It was a perfect word for the day, when Bundy took the mound in a major-league game for the first time in more than three-and-a-half years.
“It was kind of like my debut all over again,” said the 23-year-old righty prior to Friday’s series opener against the Tampa Bay Rays.
In other words, Bundy could’ve used a healthy dose of mithridate to combat all the nerves.
“I didn’t really have too much command of the ball,” said the former first-rounder, who came on in relief of Ubaldo Jiminez to start the eighth inning with his team clinging to a 3-2 lead.
A former fourth overall pick in 2011, Bundy tore through the minor leagues in 2012 and made his big-league debut that same year, appearing in two late-September games in the middle of a pennant race. But shortly thereafter, injuries put a screeching halt to the Bundy Express. In June of 2013, he underwent Tommy John surgery, and over the past three seasons he’s worked just 65 minor-league innings. He’s thrown so infrequently that he can’t even tell you what his walkout song is.
“I haven’t hardly pitched in three years, so I didn’t have one,” he said.
Now that he’s finally healthy again -- and back in the bigs -- he does have a walkout song. It’s Colt Ford’s “Answer to No One.” Not that he could hear it last night.
“I didn’t notice it until I got on the mound,” says Bundy, a native of Oklahoma who loves his country music. “I ran out there pretty quick because I wanted to hurry up and get started.”
Apparently, he was in a little too much of a hurry.
“Being so amped up, my mechanics were a tick off here and there. If you’re an inch off at the mound, you’re going to be a foot off at the plate. I didn’t really have too much command of the ball.”
Of the 11 pitches that Bundy threw in his scoreless inning, six went for strikes. One of those six -- a 93-mph heater to Joe Mauer -- nearly went out of the park. “I tried to go in on him, and I left it right over the middle of the plate,” said Bundy. “I thought it was long gone.” Instead, the cold Camden Yards air kept it in the park and leftfielder Nolan Reimold caught it right in front of the wall.
Frigid temps weren’t the only thing that aided Bundy in his return to the major leagues. After slugger Miguel Sano laced a line-drive single to left with two outs, O’s catcher Caleb Joseph gunned down pinch runner Eduardo Nunez on a stolen-base attempt for the final out of the frame.
“That always helps,” Bundy said. “I was excited that I was able to get off the field.” He’s hoping that next time, he won’t be quite so excited to get back on it. “I’ll try to control my nerves a little more next time out.”
If he’s lucky, he won’t need any mithridate.