Toward the end of his introductory press conference, the smile that had periodically spread across Cole Irvin’s face never softened.

The left-hander, whom the Orioles acquired Thursday afternoon in a trade with the Oakland Athletics, talked of opportunity. He unpacked his offseason training regimen, and how it differs from previous years. He delved into pitch mix and velocity and how stats — to him, at least — are just numbers.

And then Irvin managed to distill his feelings down to one, succinct sentence.

“I’m glad to be wanted,” he said.

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Because it hasn’t always been that way, especially in a baseball world in which eyes can be drawn toward triple-digit numbers flashing on radar guns. That’s not Irvin. He’s a self-proclaimed innings eater whose main focus is winning — even if it involves a grind of an outing from himself.

But that’s what the Orioles wanted, and it’s why they traded away shortstop prospect Darell Hernaiz to receive the soon-to-be 29-year-old along with minor league right-hander Kyle Virbitsky. On Thursday night, after the trade was confirmed, a 45-minute conversation with pitching coach Chris Holt only reinforced Baltimore’s interest in Irvin.

“It’s hard to just not smile and not be eager to get down to spring training with all the conversations I’ve had in the last, what, 12 hours?” Irvin said, beaming again. “I think there’s so much good about this team, about this organization. … There’s a lot of potential to turn some more heads in our direction.”

Heads haven’t always turned to track Irvin. The Phillies selected him in the fifth round of the 2016 draft, but he pitched just 45 1/3 innings for Philadelphia with an ERA of 6.75 before the Athletics purchased his contract in 2021.

Even in Oakland, it took an injury for Mike Fiers to open a door for Irvin to establish himself in the rotation. “I ran with it,” Irvin said, and it led to two straight seasons with at least 30 starts and about 180 innings under his belt.

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Looking at his statistics, those seasons appear average at best. His ERA+, a metric in which 100 represents league average, sat at 94 last season. His strikeout percentage ranked in the bottom 15th percentile and his fastball and curveball spin rates were among the lowest in the majors.

“I just think that there’s a lot of things [overvalued] in today’s game,” Irvin said. “At the end of the day, it’s all about getting outs and doing your job, and that’s what I got traded to do.”

Irvin’s 3.98 ERA would’ve been the second best among Orioles pitchers with at least 20 starts in 2022, but he allowed 30 earned runs in his final seven games, a wobbly decline that Irvin has studied this offseason.

What Irvin discovered is that he got ready too early, entering spring training already ramped up to three innings of live pitching. To put it simply, he was “a little overworking it.”

Irvin has changed his approach this offseason, spending more time in the weight room and doing long toss rather than pitching off the mound. In his bullpen sessions, he’s seen encouraging signs: Typically, he throws in the 83 to 84 mph range during bullpens; now, he’s reached 90 mph.

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“It’s not that I’m purposely trying to throw hard,” Irvin said. “To me, that’s a noticeable uptick in velocity, and that’s just with less effort and just focusing on some weight training, long toss routines, just changing up a couple things in the offseason and focusing on the longevity of a 162-game season.”

High velocity has never been part of Irvin’s game, and he doesn’t wish to change that. His four-seam fastball hovered on average at 90.7 mph last season, and his sinker and cutter weren’t far off. What allows him to get outs is his pitch mix, and in that phone call with Holt on Thursday, the two discussed plans to maximize Irvin’s arsenal that are already in the works.

His slider and curveball haven’t been “impactful pitches,” as Irvin admitted. He only threw one slider in 2022, abandoning a pitch he had thrown nearly 15% of the time the year prior.

But Holt and Irvin are already brainstorming potential improvements for those offerings, and Irvin will begin to make tweaks over his final few weeks in North Carolina before reporting to Sarasota for spring training.

Just thinking of those adjustments, and the time Holt already put in, made that smile from Irvin widen once more.

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“It’s nice to be wanted,” Irvin reiterated.

A minor league addition

The Orioles announced the signing of first baseman Curtis Terry to a minor-league deal. Terry played 13 games for the Texas Rangers in 2021 and then featured in Triple-A for the Minnesota Twins last year. In his 80 games prior to an August release, Terry hit .250 with a .777 OPS.