Sometimes being a kind and accommodating teammate pays off nicely in the big leagues. Just ask Baltimore Orioles right-hander Kevin Gausman, who prior to Friday's game at Yankee Stadium was presented with a Rolex by teammate Ubaldo Jimenez as payback for agreeing to give Jimenez his No. 31 in spring training.
Jimenez, who signed a four-year, $50 million deal on Feb. 19, was actually only the most recent person to ask Gausman for his number. Since reaching the big leagues in 2013, Gausman, 23, has been asked to give up his uniform number on three different occasions, and obliged each time without asking for a payment.
“I didn’t even think twice. Give it to him. I don’t really care [about] 31, I wasn’t attached to it at all,” Gausman said. “Hammel was a good dude, so I was like, ‘All right, I’ll be 39.’”
As it turns out, Jimenez was also the richest to ask, and he wasn't going to let the exchange go without some form of payment to show his appreciation. A classy gesture.
By the way, here's a breakdown of Gausman's number carousel courtesy of CSN's Keely Diven:
Gausman wore No. 75 in spring training of last year, then switched to No. 37 for his first season in the big leagues. The Orioles’ new pitching coach Dave Wallace wanted No. 37 when he arrived, so Gausman switched to No. 31 in the first week of camp rather than turn down his new coach. That would have been the end of the number saga had the Orioles not signed Ubaldo Jimenez soon after. Jimenez wanted Gausman’s number, and as usual, he obliged and asked for nothing in return. Now, Wallace wears No. 37, Jimenez wears No. 31 and Gausman wears No. 39.
No word on what, if anything, Gausman received for the other numbers. As number exchanges tend to go, if a younger player asks a veteran, there's usually some type of payment involved, whether it's buying him a watch or picking up a large tab at dinner. When the roles are reversed, the younger player is expected to give it up as a sign of respect, which has been the case with Gausman three times now.
It's just the right thing to do, and as a young player looking to fit into a major league clubhouse as best he can, it's also the wise thing to do. In Gausman's case, that approach paid off in the form of a Rolex. Unfortunately, though, it didn't guarantee him his spot in the clubhouse.
Immediately after Friday's game ended, Gausman was informed that he was being sent back down to Triple-A despite throwing six shutout innings against the Tampa Bay Rays on Wednesday. Talk about a whirlwind few days. The silver lining, apparently, is that Baltimore intends to recall Gausman to start one game of a doubleheader on June 27.
In essence, Gausman's won't even miss a turn in the rotation. Beyond that, it's believed he'll keep his spot on the roster. After all, he's one of the game's top pitching prospects and figures to fit into Baltimore's plans long-term, but there's hardly any guarantees that the short-term plans will stay the same. It's a day-to-day process for a young kid looking to establish himself in the big leagues.
But hey, regardless of where he calls home a week from now, at least he'll be able to tell time.
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