Duke on his hip injuries and surgeries:
Basically, from birth, the head of my femur was large from both my hips, so I had less joint space than most people would have. Then after years and years of pitching started to wear off the cartilage. The first surgery I had was on my right hip in 2007, and they shaved the bone on the femur down to create more joint space and the season after that I pitched really well, it was 2008 when I made the All Star team with the A’s as a starter and I ended up having a 2nd surgery on my hip. Since then my right hip has been perfectly fine. Last year I had the same thing done on my right hip and I’ve rehabbed it since I had surgery. I threw for scouts, was already throwing mid 85-86 MPH which is as hard as I could throw in a game last year at full speed, but I was only throwing a BP. I don’t feel it should be any issue. I’m looking forward to being healthy finally.
Duke on the process for finding a team this offseason:
My agent and I knew that because I’ve been injured the last 2 years and only pitched 28 innings, I would probably have to throw for some teams to get the contract we were looking for. Our whole plan was to get my rehab finished on the hips where I could get on a mound for teams to show them where I was at.
Duke on choosing Baltimore as his landing spot over DC:
I threw for Baltimore on Friday and they immediately contacted my agent and apparently liked what they saw and said they wanted me to sign with them, then it came down to negotiating between the Orioles and a couple other teams. Ultimately, the two teams it came down to were the Orioles and the Nationals. I felt like those were the two teams that had the best set of circumstances for me as far as giving me the opportunity to pitch in the rotation and be close enough to my son. I think the ultimate reason I went with the Orioles was because it was a little bit closer to my son and they’re in the American League, and with my back and my hip history, I felt like having to hit and run to 1st base and swing the bat wouldn’t have been as good for me to stay healthy as being in the American League and we have a DH. I’m super excited to be part of a new organization. I had a great history with the A’s, it’s too bad I was hurt recently, but I think a change of scenery will be good, and being closer to my son will definitely help.
Duke on his history of depression:
It was more circumstantial than anything. I’ve worked through all that and have learned to manage that better and now, knowing that I’m coming to Baltimore for the Summer, it really relieves a lot of that.
Duke on similarities between Oakland and Baltimore:
I don’t really know that much about the Orioles. The last time I pitched against them was when you guys still had Aubrey Huff. I know Jeremy Guthrie, I’ve seen him throw, he’s got a phenomenal arm. I watched Brian Matusz pitch against us early in the season last year. From what I saw, I thought he was pretty wise beyond his years on the mound, it seemed a lot like me as far as a pitcher knowing how to change speeds, move the ball around, and really pitch. Other than that, I don’t really know many guys. I know Vladimir, I know him from pitching against him, and I’m going to be glad to not have to face him all the time like I did when he was with Anaheim because I don’t think I had great success with him. I’ll get a better idea [of the team] when I get to Spring Training to get to watch us play.
Duke on the Orioles offense and how the lineup can give him confidence on the mound:
I’m not knocking on the A’s but were were always known as a pitching team when I was there. When you have a decent offense behind you and you give up 2 or 3 runs, you always feel like you have a chance to come back. I think it takes the pressure off when you go out and know you don’t have to be perfect every pitch. I know some of the hitters; I’ve faced Roberts, I know Derrek Lee was a great hitter for the Cubs. Looking at the lineup on paper it looks like we’re certainly going to be able to put up runs. That will definitely take pressure off the pitching staff.
Duke on his role with the team with relation to his injury history:
With the hip history, when you’ve had hip surgeries, if I were to throw today [and] tomorrow, I could have a little stiffness and soreness. As a starter, you have your days off in between to get that out of there. As a reliever, you [may] have to throw 3 or 4 days in a row. For me personally, it’s better for me to be able to get warm today, and then if I have any soreness or residual effects from it, have those 3 or 4 days in between to rest and get ready for your next game.
Duke on why he prefers starting over relieving:
I feel like the stuff that I take to the mound is more conducive to being a starter. I throw 4 pitches. I throw [them] to all locations. And the type of game that I pitch is more of a thinking man’s game. Now, the success I had out of the bullpen, I think pitching is pitching. As a reliever, I know a lot of the guys that come out of the bullpen are stuff guys, where they can come out and just blow guys away or overpower hitters. So, for me, if I come out a little off that day, I’m going to get hit a lot harder than the guy that’s throwing 96 that comes out there with his best stuff. Whereas as a starter, if I come out in the 1st inning and I’m not doing great, I have a little bit of time to make the adjustments. I’m not gonna give up 2 [or] 3 hits and get pulled out of the game. Having the ability to get a feel for what’s working that day and what’s not and have the chance to get myself back in the game so if I give up 2 runs in the 1st inning, my day’s not over. I remember a couple of years ago, I had an outing in Chicago where I came out and gave up 2 runs in the 1st, and I ended up going 7 innings and those were the only 2 runs I gave up, and I got the win. I just feel like mentally and physically it matches up better to what abilities I have.