PITTSBURGH — The flyout Jordan Westburg hit in the seventh inning last week against the Kansas City Royals might have rattled him nearly to a breaking point during his rookie year. There was a man on second with two outs in a tie game — and Westburg didn’t come through.

Last year, Westburg arrived with a heavy burden on his shoulders. Much of that was self-imposed; he wanted to produce, to be a reason the Orioles won the American League East rather than Baltimore winning it despite him. Each out he recorded felt far more costly than it ought to have.

“Sometimes that pressure is really good; it heightens your awareness, it heightens your preparation,” Westburg said. “At other times, it kind of brings you to your knees a little bit. There was a little bit of that last year. A lot of that, I would say.”

But when Westburg flied out to end the seventh and didn’t hand Baltimore a lead, there was a sense of calm around the 25-year-old that’s refreshing. He reached the dugout and felt “pretty peaceful.”

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He tried his best. That’s all he can do.

“I had this trust that, ‘If I do come back up, I think I’ve got this,’” Westburg recalled. “And, even if not, that’s OK.”

Up walked Westburg two innings later, with the game tied again and a runner on first. It was the ninth inning, the game on the line, a pressure-packed situation. Westburg exhaled, then clobbered a walk-off, two-run home run.

It was the most electric moment of his career, and he was in the spotlight. But, in the aftermath of that ecstasy, Westburg grounded himself once more.

“He’s such a serious player and takes his job really seriously and is hard on himself and wants to be really good,” manager Brandon Hyde said. “You kind of could see a little bit of relief there when he hit first base and saw the ball go over the fence, because I know he wants to contribute so badly.”

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At the center of Westburg’s greater comfort in the clubhouse and on the field is an understanding that baseball doesn’t define him. Westburg is a ballplayer. He’s a professional who loves the sport. But if this doesn’t work out? If baseball is not in his future?

“You know what, this is the harsh reality, and it sounds bad, but if this doesn’t work out, I can be OK with that,” Westburg said. “I have a purpose.”

Westburg grew up in a Christian household in Texas, and he’s maintained that faith. Over the offseason, he reinforced his footing in his faith at Trinity Baptist Church in Southaven, Mississippi.

It’s the parish his wife, Anna Claire, grew up in. It’s where they got married, and it’s where they spend Wednesdays and Sundays throughout the winter. Westburg counts Chad Everson, the senior pastor at the church, as a mentor.

Reconnecting on a higher level with his faith has enabled Westburg to feel more like himself. He has his rock. He loves baseball, but the inevitable failures that are integral in the game won’t sweep him off his feet like they did last year.

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“Being Christian is a big part of my life. It’s who I am,” Westburg said. “And last year I feel like I got caught up in wanting so much success in baseball — take this the right way, it might come off a little bit bad — getting caught up so much in the team success and being part of that, that I almost forgot what my values are, where I find my worth, where my rock is. So when I did get brought to my knees from the baseball side, I was not able to separate the successes and failures between the lines from how I felt outside of the lines.”

The drills and workouts that filled Westburg’s offseason were only part of his preparation for his first full season in the majors. He entered the winter with a passion for connecting with his church community, and that community is giving him a strong foundation during the season.

Westburg and his wife have grown close to many of the other young families at Trinity Baptist. He hunts and golfs with his friends there during the winter and, now that the season is underway, they text him just about every day.

“They’re ragging on my mustache,” Westburg said, laughing. “But it’s warming to still feel connected there.”

Westburg also routinely talks through Bible passages and life outlook with Everson, the pastor. Every morning, Westburg wakes up and reads the Bible. He’s currently working through the Old Testament from Genesis.

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He prays throughout the day, whenever he feels the need to calm down. And each week he and Everson get on the phone, recounting the highs and lows and sharing in Bible study or books (such as the “Disciplines of a Godly Man” by R. Kent Hughes).

“We’re setting up phone calls; we’re talking through it,” Westburg said. “I do have that anchor that’s rooted back home.”

And then, each Wednesday during the winter, Westburg puts baseball aside. He volunteers in the kitchen at Liberty Baptist, preparing meals for the community. At $5 a plate, Westburg said, the community service is meaningful for those in Southaven.

“That’s the way I can give back to not only our church family and church community but anybody who wants to be a part of it,” Westburg said.

All of those activities remind him that baseball is his profession, not his be all, end all. The pressure he felt last year is still there — he wants to win and succeed — but it’s not overwhelming as it was at times in his rookie season.

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Westburg can fail but avoid a spiral. There’s another plate appearance, another game or another meal to cook.

“I know that, if I don’t find success here, OK, I’m going to be fine,” Westburg said. “I’m going to go back home and find something else to do. But I’ll have that same purpose — it just won’t be in baseball.”