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Guthrie closes the book on 2011 campaign

Guthrie closes the book on 2011 campaign

BALTIMORE — Jeremy Guthrie popped out of the Orioles' clubhouse here Monday afternoon, then rode his bike a few feet in a runway before his team faced the Boston Red Sox to start the last series of regular-season play.

Guthrie, who made his final start of the year last weekend in Detroit, will be using other forms of transportation again this coming off-season. The Ashland High graduate plans to make a trip with his family to Spain, where he served a two-year mission with the Mormon church in 1999-2000.

Guthrie was 9-17 with a 4.33 ERA this season in 34 games, with 32 starts.

But it was his durability and finishing kick that stood out.

The right-hander went 3-0 over his last four starts, including a seven-inning, shutout performance against Toronto and a 10-strikeout effort against Tampa Bay.

For the fourth year in a row he pitched at least 190 innings, as he went 208 innings this year. He has gone at least 200 innings in 2009, 2010 and 2011.

"I am happy I was able to stay healthy. Every year I hope to throw 200 innings," said Guthrie, sitting by his locker as his teammates prepared for the final series of the season. "It is a goal that I have."

"It is rare these days," Orioles' catcher Matt Wieters said of Guthrie and his 200-innings streak. "He is a valuable guy, even though his won-loss record was not what he would have liked. He sometimes doesn't get the run support that he deserves."

For his career, the Roseburg native is 47-65 with 4.19 ERA in 177 games, with 154 starts. The Orioles end regular-season play today at home against the Red Sox.

Wieters, an All-Star catcher this season, said the value of Guthrie goes beyond taking the ball every five days. He gives advice to some of the younger pitchers on the staff.

"Hopefully pitchers take what he does in his game (plan) and put it in their game," Wieters said of Guthrie.

"I try to lead by example," said Guthrie, a right-hander who turns 32 in April and lives with his family in Utah during the winter.

A few weeks ago Guthrie visited a Baltimore Ravens practice. He is friends with Haloti Ngata, an All-Pro defensive tackle for the Ravens who grew up in Salt Lake City and played in college at the University of Oregon. Guthrie said he met Ngata at Camden Yards a few years ago and the pitcher attended training camp last summer for the Ravens in Westminster, Md.

Guthrie, who played at BYU and Stanford, began his pro career with Cleveland in 2003 and made his big league debut with the Indians in 2004. He was picked up by the Orioles prior to the 2007 season and has been the most durable starter for the club for the past several seasons.

He will have the chance to watch a lot of football in the off-season as he prepares for spring training in Florida. The Orioles, 67-92 before Monday's game, had a disappointing season after a solid finish to the 2010 season.

"I think there will be a lot of changes but we will have a solid rotation next year," he said. "I am sure we will challenge other teams in the tough American League East division".

David Driver is a free-lance writer in Maryland and can be reached at www.davidsdriver.com

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