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(Updated: Wednesday 3:25 p.m.)
BALTIMORE — What was initially feared after his latest setback has become a reality as Orioles pitching prospect Dylan Bundy will undergo Tommy John surgery.
The 20-year-old was in the midst of a throwing progression in Sarasota after a six-week layoff that followed a platelet-rich plasma injection administered by renowned orthopedist Dr. James Andrews in late April. The right-hander had progressed to throwing from 120 feet when he again experienced discomfort in his right forearm and elbow.
Bundy saw team orthopedist Dr. John Wilckens on Tuesday and traveled to Florida to visit Dr. Andrews for a second opinion. Manager Buck Showalter didn’t disclose any new information prior to Tuesday’s game against the Cleveland Indians as the Orioles appear to be hoping for the best but preparing for the worst.
“I just got some of it from [head athletic trainer Richie Bancells], and they’re still in the process of putting everything together,” Showalter said. “Dr. Wilckens, I’m sure, will tell Dr. Andrews what he thinks, and he’ll look at it and see what he thinks and we’ll go from there. I don’t think they’re at that point yet.”
He was diagnosed with flexor mass tightness in his right forearm in April, but an MRI on his elbow at the time showed no structural damage before he received the PRP injection and was ordered to rest for six weeks. Bundy hasn’t pitched since spring training.
The optimistic outlook of Dr. Andrews potentially prescribing a second PRP injection as he did for pitcher Zach Britton last year didn’t come to fruition as a small tear was revealed in his elbow ligament. Of course, many fans have speculated — and feared — all along that Bundy would need Tommy John surgery despite the organization’s initial lack of concern when the young pitcher began feeling discomfort in the spring.
“I’m not going to handicap it,” Showalter said Tuesday. “When they get all the information in, I’ll know a little more. There’s a potential for some good things and there’s a potential for some things we’ll have to continue to work at.”
Chen back in Baltimore
Left-hander Wei-Yin Chen returned to the Orioles clubhouse on Tuesday as he moves closer to making his return to the mound.
On the disabled list since mid-May with a strained right oblique, Chen will throw a bullpen session for Showalter and pitching coach Rick Adair on Wednesday and is scheduled to begin his minor-league rehab assignment on Saturday. He is expected to pitch five or six innings and could be activated as early as next week if that initial rehab start goes well.
Showalter has said Chen could be available to make two starts prior to the All-Star break, but making sure he is healthy is the club’s top priority, meaning the Taiwanese lefty could receive a second rehab start if necessary. Chen hasn’t experienced any pain since he began his throwing progression earlier this month, but gauging whether he is ready to get major league hitters out is a different story.
“I cannot tell exactly right now,” Chen said through his interpreter prior to Tuesday’s game. “I feel like I am pitching in spring training — step by step. But if I feel really good next outing, I will definitely come back soon.”
It hasn’t been determined whether Chen will make his rehab start for Norfolk, Bowie, or Frederick as all three affiliates are playing at home on Saturday.
Roberts begins rehab stint, Reimold struggling with his
Second baseman Brian Roberts was leading off and playing second base for Triple-A Norfolk on Tuesday night as he officially begins his rehab assignment following last month’s surgery on his right hamstring.
Showalter has said Roberts will play a minimum of three games for the Tides but acknowledged the veteran infielder could need more time to get used to live-game action again after being sidelined since April 4.
Meanwhile, outfielder Nolan Reimold continued his rehab assignment with Double-A Bowie on Tuesday as he tries to right himself at the plate.
The 29-year-old was just 2-for-25 with 10 strikeouts in his first seven games with the Baysox as both he and the organization decided it was best for him to receive more at-bats before potentially being activated from the 15-day disabled list. Reimold was placed on the DL on May 18 with a right hamstring injury that’s kept him sidelined since May 11.
S. Johnson slow to heal
Right-handed pitcher Steve Johnson continues to make slow progress as he recovers from a left oblique injury.
He recently began throwing on flat ground, but the 25-year-old doesn’t appear to be particularly close to getting back on a mound in Sarasota.
“It’s been tough. He’s battling some things down there,” Showalter said. “He’s gotten progressively better, but it’s a little slower than I hoped. It’s been a challenge for him conditioning all year because of some of the things that have kept him from it. So, I hope he’s using that time. We’ll see if he is using it.”