Tag Archive | "dylan bundy"

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Bundy allows only one run in return to mound

Posted on 15 June 2014 by Luke Jones

Less than a year removed from undergoing Tommy John surgery, top Orioles prospect Dylan Bundy made his return to competitive baseball in pitching five strong innings for short-season Single-A Aberdeen on Sunday.

The 21-year-old right-hander allowed one earned run and five hits while throwing 65 pitches for the IronBirds at Hudson Valley. Bundy struck out six and walked none in his first minor-league start since Sept. 25, 2012.

The 2011 first-round pick underwent surgery performed by renowned orthopedist Dr. James Andrews on June 27, 2013 and had pitched in a few extended spring training games in Sarasota before being assigned to Aberdeen for a minor-league rehab assignment. The current plan is for Bundy to pitch at least two more times for the IronBirds before likely being activated from the disabled list to pitch for Double-A Bowie.

Bundy’s fastball was hitting 93 to 94 miles per hour on the radar gun in his last couple outings in Sarasota as his velocity continues to climb.

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Buying high on Samardzija unlikely to bring desired payoff

Posted on 28 May 2014 by Luke Jones

The Orioles need better starting pitching and they need an ace if they truly want to compete for a World Series title.

That cry has been uttered by fans and media alike for the better part of two years — even longer if you prefer going back to the free-agent departure of Mike Mussina after the 2000 season — as the rotation has mostly been comprised of arms with the ability of No. 3, No. 4, and No. 5 starters who have often struggled to pitch deep into games, leaving the bullpen overworked and eventually worn out.

It comes as no surprise to see the reaction to a CBS Chicago report suggesting the Orioles are the “leading team of interest” in Cubs starting pitcher Jeff Samardzija, who currently sports a miniscule 1.68 earned run average through his first 11 starts of the 2014 season. That mark is second in the majors despite the 29-year-old being limited to a 1-4 record pitching for the woeful Cubs.

There’s no disputing Samardzija being a talented pitcher as he would be a clear upgrade in the starting rotation, but he’s also expected to be one of the top commodities available on the open market this summer. And that’s why it’s a dangerous proposition to bid on a solid pitcher who’s having a career season if you’re the Orioles or any club hot after his services.

As desperate as the Orioles should be for better starting pitching with their best competitive window closing after the 2015 season when Matt Wieters and Chris Davis are both scheduled to become free agents, Samardzija needs to be viewed for who he really is and not what the Orioles want him to be. The right-hander is off to an unbelievable start, but his 3.90 career ERA and 4.34 ERA pitching in the National League Central only last year suggest he isn’t much more than a solid upgrade and is not someone worth gutting a top-heavy minor-league system to acquire.

In other words, the Orioles wouldn’t be getting a David Price or a Cliff Lee in adding the 6-foot-5 right-hander to the starting rotation. And pitching in the American League East is a different story than the National League.

The Cubs are undoubtedly looking for a king’s ransom in exchange for Samardzija’s services, and there will be plenty of clubs looking to acquire him, which will further drive up the price. Should the Orioles be willing to part with some combination of top pitching prospects Kevin Gausman, Dylan Bundy, Hunter Harvey, and Eduardo Rodriguez in order to land him?

It’s true that the Orioles have far too often been disappointed in waiting for a slew of top prospects to realize their potential in recent years, but that doesn’t mean executive vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette should willingly fork over what few minor-league pieces he has for what history suggests is an improvement but not a dynamic difference-maker to put the Orioles over the top. It will ultimately come down to Chicago’s asking price and how many teams are sold on Samardzija’s start in 2014 and the idea of him truly being an ace.

Is Samardzija — who is eligible for free agency after the 2015 season — worth the combination of Rodriguez and 21-year-old second baseman Jonathan Schoop or the package of one of Gausman, Bundy, or Harvey and a lower-level prospect? Perhaps, but if other clubs are willing to exceed that kind of a deal, the Orioles must remember that Samardzija’s 66 career starts prior to 2014 suggest he’s not even as good as Ubaldo Jimenez.

Despite his tiny ERA, Samardzija is averaging 7.7 strikeouts per nine innings in 2014 — actually down from his career average of 8.5 — and a .269 batting average on balls in play against him provides statistical evidence suggesting he won’t sustain his incredible start, which even the layman would predict anyway.

It’s a difficult call as the Orioles appeared to signal during spring training that they’re finally “going for it” after investing $50 million in Jimenez and signing slugger Nelson Cruz to a one-year, $8 million contract. Throwing money at free-agent commodities is one thing, but giving up young and cheap talent in a farm system needing more depth is a dangerous proposition if you’re not overwhelmed with what you’re getting in return.

The Orioles know their best window for competing is closing with Cruz, J.J. Hardy, and Nick Markakis set to become free agents after this season and Davis and Wieters the year after. If there were ever a time for the Orioles to pull the trigger on a blockbuster deal, it’s now, particularly with the AL East looking very average.

But is the Chicago pitcher the right target?

Samardzija would improve the rotation, but whether the Orioles would be so much better with him that Duquette should pony up a couple of his top pitching prospects is open for debate.

And the history before the first two months of 2014 suggests the answer is probably not.


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Machado approaching final hurdles before rehab assignment

Posted on 14 April 2014 by Luke Jones

BALTIMORE — Manager Buck Showalter has a date in mind for when we might see third baseman Manny Machado back in the Orioles lineup but isn’t ready to share it just yet.

The 21-year-old took another significant step toward his return on Monday as he began sprinting, running at full speed six times from 90 feet at the club’s spring training facility in Sarasota. Machado also had four at-bats in a simulated game in addition to the sprinting.

Machado will sprint from 180 feet Tuesday before attempting to clear the last major hurdle of running the bases this week.

Should the All-Star third baseman respond favorably to that task, he is expected to play in at least two or three extended spring training before beginning a rehab assignment that can last up to 20 days for a position player on the major league disabled list. Such a schedule would make a return to the Orioles possible by late April or — more realistically — early May even though Showalter hinted that Machado may not need the full 20 days of minor-league games to get ready after taking part in baseball-related activity to varying degrees since late January.

“Manny’s feeling good. Hopefully, he’ll feel as well tomorrow as he did today,” said Showalter, who exchanged text messages with Machado and spoke with minor league medical coordinator Dave Walker on Monday. “He’s been down this road enough that he knows. He wants to get it right the first time. He’s got a lot of good people around him who won’t let him get ahead of himself. The things they’re putting him through, it’s going to be pretty obvious if he can do them, he’s ready to go.”

The Orioles have used the combination of Ryan Flaherty and rookie Jonathan Schoop at third base in Machado’s absence this season. All three errors committed by Baltimore have come at third base where Schoop committed two miscues in Friday’s 2-0 loss to the Toronto Blue Jays.

While the organization continues to be conservative with Machado, Monday’s developments certainly presented some light at the end of the tunnel that’s remained somewhat ambiguous since the infielder complained of soreness from scar tissue that forced him to stop running in mid-March. Of course, the Orioles will at least hold their breath as Machado tries to cut around the bases this week, which is what he struggled with during spring training.

“As Dave said today, ‘He’s got a good face going right now,'” Showalter said. “We all know what he’s talking about.”

In other injury-related news from Sarasota, pitching prospect Dylan Bundy threw 35 pitches from the mound and mixed in some changeups to go with his fastball for the first time on Monday. Bundy is expected to begin throwing curveballs later this week.

Outfielder Nolan Reimold continues to receive treatment on his surgically-repaired neck but is still not taking part in any baseball-related activity after being moved to the 60-day disabled list earlier this month.

Here are Monday’s lineups:

2B Ben Zobrist
CF Desmond Jennings
DH Logan Forsythe
3B Evan Longoria
RF Wil Myers
1B James Loney
LF Brandon Guyer
SS Yunel Escobar
C Ryan Hanigan

SP Chris Archer (1-0, 1.38 ERA)

RF Nick Markakis
DH Nelson Cruz
1B Chris Davis
CF Adam Jones
C Matt Wieters
LF David Lough
SS J.J. Hardy
2B Steve Lombardozzi
3B Ryan Flaherty

SP Wei-Yin Chen (1-1, 6.75 ERA)

Follow WNST on Twitter for updates and analysis throughout the evening at Oriole Park at Camden Yards.

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Orioles: Now or Never or Not Yet?

Posted on 30 July 2013 by Thyrl Nelson


Last year was a special one for Orioles fans but it’s over now and (hopefully) never to be duplicated. Devoid of any expectations, when the Orioles poked their heads up and into contention it became a season to remember, and for long suffering fans of the franchise it became impossible to not enjoy; it was impossible to not get swept away in the “just happy to be here” mentality.

When things were going well we pinched ourselves trying to make sure it was real. When things went badly we reminded ourselves that our frustration sure beat the indifference we’d grown accustomed to feeling through 14 futile seasons. When the media failed to buy in and attributed the team’s fortunes to luck we stood in defiance. And on top of all of that, we acknowledged that the Orioles appeared to be ahead of their “window”. In addition to the success we were enjoying in 2012, the future, built around names like Machado and Bundy and Schoop and Gausman gave the hint of being even brighter.

What a difference a year can make. As the trade deadline approaches for a team and a fan base now “accustomed” to winning, excitement has turned to expectation, hope has become hype and the future, it seems, is now.

Even however, while enjoying the fruits of this team’s success, it’s tough not to question exactly how they got here. After 14 years has the worm truly turned? Is this franchise now in capable hands to continue this success? Or have they simply stumbled into a window of likely fleeting success?

After all, to say that some of the Orioles’ on hand talent has exceeded reasonable expectations would be a gigantic understatement. The AL East is as eminently winnable is it’s been in recent memory and it won’t likely stay that way for long. And if the 14 years that led us to this point have taught is anything, it’s that once this window is closed, it may not open again for a very long time.

To their credit, the Orioles appear to be close to all in. For those still looking toward the future it may be as close to all in as we’d like to see them get. While we’ve spent the ten years at least clamoring for the team to spend more money, there’s a legitimate case to be made that outspending everyone else is no longer the path to MLB success. Some of baseball’s lowest salaried teams are not only enjoying success, but appear to be poised to sustain it. Meanwhile most of baseball’s upper class may be looking at years of paying out bad contracts with little or nothing to show in return. And, oh by the way, it’s impossible not to notice the number of bright, young MLB stars in the making that are the byproducts of other teams recent forays at going all in and are now playing elsewhere.

So far it seems that the Orioles have shown a willingness to trade away some prospects, as long as they don’t have to pay real money for the players they’re getting in return. It seems like a sound strategy, especially with a roster loaded with young players whom they’ll have to up the ante for this off-season and beyond.

You’d have to guess that if they’re really considering trading Dylan Bundy as some have suggested, it’ll likely to get a highly paid player, while also getting his team to pay a sizable portion of that high salary. Timing alone suggests that it’s not the optimal time to trade Bundy; that time was last year. In fairness, that time might be never; only time will truly tell.

The only thing that’s certain is that as fans we’ll always be able to rely on hindsight; and that any move that doesn’t end in a World Series win will be seen as the wrong one. It’s a tough standard to live up to. It’s the unfortunate part of success. Are the Orioles best served to open the “window” as wide as possible now, or pace themselves in an effort to keep it open for longer? There’s no wrong answer…yet.

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Slumping O’s to Add More Offense?

Posted on 29 July 2013 by timjones60

In shocking news the Orioles have recently been rumored to have put no other than Dylan Bundy out on the trade block. But who would the Orioles move Bundy for. Most would think that the Orioles would move Bundy for a proven ace the likes of the Phillies Cliff Lee or the White Sox’ Jake Peavy. However the rumor mill is swirling with the talks of the Orioles looking for a DH. In my opinion Henry Urrutia has proven himself as a viable designated hitter in Major League Baseball, but the O’s seek to add a proven hitter.

ESPN’ Buster Olney and the Baltimore Sun’s own Dan Connelly have linked the Orioles to the Minnesota Twins former MVP Justin Morneau. While the move would give the Orioles a solid left handed DH with a little more pop than Urrutia, is the injury risk a detractor from the deal? Morneau has missed substantial time in the past due to concussions. Coupled with declining numbers I don’t really view Morneau as an upgrade to what the Orioles already have. This season he is batting .264 with 8 home runs and 53 rbi’s. With this being the final year of his deal the Twins will likely eat much of the 14 million due to Morneau the rest of this season.

ESPN’ Buster Olney has reported on twitter that the Orioles have had “internal discussions” about Padres outfielder Carlos Quentin. Quentin is 31 (A year younger than Morneau) and has decent splits while playing half of his games at pitcher friendly Petco Park batting .255/.351/.492. Quentin also has a year left on his deal but is owed 25 million next year. The Orioles aren’t tipically known for the huge splash high dollar moves, but reports have also surfaced that Owner Peter Angelos has loosened the purse strings in hopes of a Orioles pennant.

No matter what I believe the Orioles will make a move before Wednesdays Non-waiver trade deadline. Also I don’t really think that Bundy will be moved in any of those deals, Tommy John surgery keeping him off the mound until next year and the limited performances this season makes it very hard to move him. But whatever move they do make it will be left up to Dan Duquette to acquire the last piece to bring the World Series back to Baltimore.

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Orioles remaining upbeat despite disappointing Bundy news

Posted on 26 June 2013 by Luke Jones

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BALTIMORE — The news of Orioles pitching prospect Dylan Bundy needing Tommy John surgery clearly isn’t making Buck Showalter or anyone else in the organization feel like doing cartwheels downtown.

But the manager wasn’t singing the blues in his office either after it was determined that renowned orthopedist Dr. James Andrews would perform the ulnar collateral ligament reconstruction on the 20-year-old’s right elbow in Florida on Thursday. It’s better than the state of limbo in which Bundy and the organized have been since the 2011 first-round pick began experiencing discomfort in his right forearm in the spring.

“We’ve got that behind us. We know what it is,” Showalter said. “It’s nothing he is doing wrong or something he’s got to do differently. It’s just something that happens. [It’s] pretty normal, and we’re going to fix it.”

A trip to the disabled list and rest didn’t solve the issue initially. A platelet-rich plasma injection from Dr. Andrews and six weeks of rest appeared to do the trick before Bundy experienced similar discomfort in his arm while throwing from 120 feet in Sarasota on Monday.

From that point, surgery certainly appeared inevitable as a small tear in his UCL was discovered after Dr. Andrews and team orthopedist Dr. John Wilckens didn’t find any structural damage to the pitcher’s elbow in April.

Many have pointed to the advances made with Tommy John surgery — Showalter reminded everyone Wednesday that future Hall of Fame closer Mariano Rivera underwent the procedure when it was more invasive and riskier — and have described it as little more than a tuneup for a pitcher in the 21st century. That descriptor might be cavalier, but plenty of evidence suggests Bundy can reach the full potential that made him the Orioles’ top draft selection just over two years ago.

Surgery should always be treated as a last-resort option in cases such as these despite the critics who will say the pitcher should have had the surgery two months earlier in lieu of the PRP injection.

“You can always make a statement that everybody’s going to have it sooner or later, but you try to keep it from happening,” Showalter said. “In a lot of cases, that’s preordained. You take the precautions you need to take and hopefully it doesn’t happen.”

Of course, there are no guarantees with any surgical procedure, but Bundy’s age and impeccable work ethic would figure to put him in a category suited to make the quickest recovery — the timetable for a return to the mound is 10-14 months– and to reach his full ceiling as opposed to an older or less-dedicated pitcher having the surgery.

There are plenty of examples of pitchers who returned to the mound with the same or even better velocity after a tendon from elsewhere in the body replaces the damaged ligament, essentially giving a pitcher a new elbow. The list of current major leaguers who’ve undergone the procedure is extensive, ranging from Stephen Strasburg and Josh Johnson to C.J. Wilson and Orioles starter Miguel Gonzalez.

Showalter reminded everyone that Bundy wasn’t a finished product as the organization was working with him to make some mechanical adjustments and to improve his time to the plate. The surgery essentially gives Bundy the potential for a clean slate physically and allows him to continue to focus on those adjustments when he’s once again pitching for a minor-league affiliate — as early as the second half of next season if the Baltimore manager has his wish granted.

“He had some hurdles to cross and this might help some in certain situations,” Showalter said. “Hopefully, next year at this time, we’ll be putting a date on when he’s going to pitch again in a game.”

The second-guessing will go on until Bundy is once again back on a mound pitching. And even then, many will wonder what might have been if he never becomes the top-of-the-rotation starter many envisioned prior to the injury.

Some will say the injury is the latest example why organizations are foolish for drafting high-school pitchers in the first round, even if they’ll ignore such names as Clayton Kershaw, Zack Greinke, Matt Cain, Cole Hamels, Clayton Kershaw, and Adam Wainwright that suggest it can be a very successful strategy. While college pitchers drafted in the first round have a higher success rate of making it to the majors, some evidence suggests high school arms taken in the opening round have more success than college pitchers when focusing on the pool of picks that makes it to the big leagues.

Unlike the selection of Matt Hobgood in 2009 that was criticized as a reach for financial purposes, Bundy was a consensus top 5 pick that a slew of teams would have taken in the Orioles’ position drafting fourth overall in 2011. Selecting high-school pitchers in the first round carries more risk but a higher ceiling in most cases.

Ultimately, Tommy John surgery doesn’t discriminate as you’ll find a plethora of teenagers and veteran major league pitchers alike who will meet the same fate at various times in their careers.

“We all know this is a procedure that, unfortunately, has become pretty commonplace, as Dr. Andrews would say,” Showalter said. “We talk about it all the time. He’s seeing it more and more in 14-, 15-, 16-year-old kids. That’s one of the most alarming things that he’s seeing that has changed.”

The biggest red flag you’ll find when it comes to Bundy was the workload permitted by his father Denver and high school coaches a few years back when a 2010 report from the Tulsa World wrote that the young pitcher once threw 293 pitches in a four-day stretch.

Did those types of stress contribute to a greater risk for an injury? Almost certainly, but providing the empirical evidence that shows Bundy’s overuse was dramatically different from countless other hotshot pitching prospects — at the high school or college level — would be next to impossible.

And it still doesn’t necessarily prohibit him from regaining his dominant form with a surgically-repaired elbow.

Regardless of the factors leading up to Bundy going under the knife and what might have been handled differently over the last few months — or even the last several years — Showalter and the organization can only turn the page now after finding a resolution to Bundy’s forearm discomfort. Wednesday’s outcome certainly wasn’t good news, but no one should be talking about the pitcher using the past tense.

“Dylan’s ready to go. You think about everything he’s been through with this,” said Showalter, who admitted the organization will have to monitor that Bundy doesn’t work too hard during the long rehabilitation process. “He just wants to get it done, start the thought of being able to pitch without any discomfort.”

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Orioles top pitching prospect Bundy to undergo Tommy John surgery

Posted on 25 June 2013 by Luke Jones

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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.”

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Orioles shut down top pitching prospect Bundy once again

Posted on 25 June 2013 by Luke Jones

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As if a fourth consecutive loss on Monday wasn’t bad enough, the Orioles have once again shut down top pitching prospect Dylan Bundy.

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 orthopedic Dr. James Andrews in late April. The right-hander had progressed to throwing from 120 feet and appeared to be on the verge of getting back on the mound before once again experiencing discomfort in his right forearm and elbow.

At least that was the perception created by manager Buck Showalter earlier in the day before MASN first reported the news after the loss.

“Dylan’s still not on the mound yet, but he’s doing all his work and feels fine,” Showalter said prior to Monday’s 5-2 loss to the Cleveland Indians. “I haven’t heard something different than what he’s doing. I know 120 [feet] was about as far as [he’s gone]. I think the next step is to go on the mound, but I intentionally don’t ask that question. I leave that in [the training staff’s] hands.”

Bundy will be examined by team orthopedic Dr. John Wilckens in Baltimore on Tuesday and is expected to be seen by Dr. Andrews again. He was diagnosed with flexor mass tightness in the forearm, but an MRI on his elbow showed no structural damage before he received the PRP injection and was ordered to rest for six weeks.

The 2011 first-round pick hasn’t pitched since spring training.

Showalter said following Monday’s game that outfielder Steve Pearce received a cortisone injection in his left wrist and will go to Sarasota later this week.



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Roberts returns to Baltimore for “homestretch” of recovery process

Posted on 10 June 2013 by Luke Jones

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BALTIMORE — Injured second baseman Brian Roberts hadn’t been spotted in the Orioles clubhouse since early April when he was placed on the disabled list with a right hamstring injury, but the 35-year-old is glad to be home.

Even if he’s still a few weeks away from a potential return to major league action.

After rejoining the club during its three-game series against Tampa Bay over the weekend, Roberts has elected to continue his rehabilitation efforts in Baltimore after spending most of the last two months in Sarasota. The 35-year-old underwent surgery less than five weeks ago and described himself as being in the “home stretch” of the recovery process before going on a minor-league rehab assignment.

“It’s great to be back,” Roberts said. “You feel kind of isolated on an island down there. It is already good to be around the guys and feel like you are part of the team.”

Roberts has increased his activity level over the last couple weeks as he is taking batting practice, playing catch, and continuing to test his surgically-repaired hamstring as he works his way back to running at full speed. Roberts reiterated Monday what he said over the weekend about not anticipating a lengthy rehab assignment like the one he completed last year while returning from concussion-like symptoms.

Manager Buck Showalter seemed to agree with that assessment as long as Roberts felt he was ready, mentioning three to seven games as possible estimate. Meanwhile, Roberts is focused on testing the hamstring to make sure it’s 100 percent before he takes the next step of playing in minor-league games.

“Mainly the running progression,” Roberts said. “Just continuing to build up to where you can be explosive again [and] where you can cut, you can stop, you can backpedal. The running has really taken some good steps forward in the last couple of days and I’m hoping that is a sign we have reached the point where things can started moving a little quicker.”

Roberts hasn’t played since injuring his hamstring in St. Petersburg on April 4 and is fully aware of the doubts expressed over his ability to remain healthy as the Orioles have struggled to find production at second base with the combination of Ryan Flaherty and Alexi Casilla. The veteran infielder has played in just 118 games over the last four seasons combined.

For now, he’s happy to be back in a big-league environment while in the midst of the final year of a four-year, $40 million that obviously hasn’t worked out how either side had hoped.

“Nothing compares to being in this atmosphere,” Roberts said. “I don’t know how much longer I have left to be in it, and I want to be around it as much as possible.”

NOTES: Right-handed pitcher Dylan Bundy began a throwing progression in Sarasota on Monday, completing 25 throws from 60 feet without experiencing any discomfort, according to Showalter. … Outfielder Nolan Reimold (hamstring) could be ready to go on a minor-league rehab assignment by the end of the current homestand. Showalter offered a similar range of games for Reimold as he spelled out for Roberts. … Left-handed pitcher Wei-Yin Chen will be summoned to Baltimore as soon as he’s ready to begin throwing off a mound, according to Showalter, which should be in the not-too-distant future barring any setbacks. …Casilla was not in the starting lineup after jamming his right index finger sliding into second base on Sunday. Showalter revealed that he likely would have started Casilla against the Angels after the utility infielder went 2-for-3 with two RBIs in the series finale against the Rays.

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Chen, Bundy each taking big steps in potential returns; All-Star voting update

Posted on 03 June 2013 by Luke Jones

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As the Orioles enjoyed some much-needed rest and a travel day on Monday, they also received good news for two important pieces of their pitching puzzle who have been sidelined recently.

According to interpreter Tim Lin through his Twitter account, left-handed pitcher Wei-Yin Chen will take part in his first light-toss session in Sarasota on Tuesday to test the progress made from a strained right oblique that’s kept him sidelined for just over three weeks. Manager Buck Showalter revealed late last week that Chen reported no discomfort whatsoever for the first time last week and the pitcher had begun jogging work in a pool.

Chen hasn’t picked up a ball since leaving his start against the Minnesota Twins as strained obliques are often a difficult injury to rehab due to a bigger fear of setbacks. Showalter said Sunday that a mid-June return would be the best-case scenario for the Taiwanese southpaw, but the Orioles are expected to remain cautious to avoid the possibility of re-injury.

The Orioles will have a chance to reunite with Chen this weekend as they travel to St. Petersburg for a three-game set with the Tampa Bay Rays.

Meanwhile, top pitching prospect Dylan Bundy will also begin a throwing progression on June 10 after a followup exam with the renowned Dr. James Andrews on Monday, the club announced.

The fourth overall pick of the 2011 draft hasn’t pitched since spring training due to discomfort in his right forearm and received a platelet-rich plasma injection on April 29 that was followed by six weeks of rest. Should Bundy make it through the throwing program without any signs of pain or discomfort, the 20-year-old would presumably rejoin Double-A Bowie’s starting rotation.

Bundy and the Orioles had reported no discomfort and full range of motion with the elbow prior to Monday’s meeting with Dr. Andrews.

Davis, Jones among leaders in All-Star balloting

Having a career year with a .357 average, 20 home runs, and 52 RBIs, Chris Davis leads all American League first basemen in All-Star voting with a slight edge over Detroit’s Prince Fielder.

With just under 1.2 million votes in the update provided by Major League Baseball on Monday, Davis would become the first Orioles first baseman to start the Midsummer Classic since Eddie Murray in 1985.

Center fielder Adam Jones is second behind the Angels’ Mike Trouth in AL voting for outfielders, which means the 27-year-old would be one of the All-Star starters if voting concluded now. Jones is hitting .313 with 11 home runs and 37 RBIs so far this season and is a two-time All-Star.

Right fielder Nick Markakis is sixth among AL outfielders while left fielder Nate McLouth currently ranks seventh.

Third baseman Manny Machado ranks second in the voting at his position, trailing only 2012 Triple Crown winner Miguel Cabrera, who leads in the overall AL vote. The 20-year-old is hitting .327 with a major-league-leading 25 doubles in his first full season in the major leagues.

Matt Wieters currently trails only Minnesota’s Joe Mauer among AL catchers and is vying for his third consecutive All-Star appearance.

Shortstop J.J. Hardy is second in voting at his position, narrowly behind Elvis Andrus of the Texas Rangers.

Despite playing in just three games this season before suffering a right hamstring injury, Brian Roberts ranks fifth among AL second basemen.

Sunday home game against Yankees moved to Sunday Night Baseball

The Orioles’ June 30 home game against the New York Yankees has been moved from 1:35 p.m. to 8:05 p.m. and will be a nationally-televised event on ESPN’s Sunday Night Baseball.

Baltimore and New York squared off on a Sunday night in the Bronx back in April.

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