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June 21, 2010

Injured O's and timelines

The Orioles should get a whole lot healthier over the next couple of weeks, although none of the injured players are scheduled to return on the nine-game homestand that starts Tuesday. Here is a rundown:

Outfielder Felix Pie (torn muscle in back): He'll play three games with the Gulf Coast Orioles, starting today, and then head north, where he'll probably join Single-A Frederick on Thursday or Friday. He'll play about seven total games for a combination of Frederick, Double-A Bowie and possibly Triple-A Norfolk, and if he gets through OK, he could be activated in time for the final road trip before the All-Star break, which starts Friday, July 2, in Boston. You'd have to think his activation will spell the end of seldom-used Lou Montanez, although that will mean that four of the Orioles' five outfielders are left-handed hitters (Pie, Nick Markakis, Luke Scott and Corey Patterson).

Reliever Michael Gonzalez (left shoulder strain): He's scheduled to throw another simulated game today, according to pitching coach Rick Kranitz. He then could pitch in a couple of Gulf Coast games before joining one of the Orioles' minor league affiliates in a week to 10 days. He could be ready at some point during the final road trip before the All-Star break if there are no setbacks. The Orioles' bullpen picture seemingly changes on a daily basis, but Matt Albers and Frank Mata would be the two guys at the highest risk of losing their roster spot. Mark Hendrickson has not pitched well, but the Orioles might want to keep him as the long man with Jason Berken pitching so well later in games.

Reliever Koji Uehara (right forearm strain): He's expected to throw a live bullpen session today, and if all goes well, he could get into some Gulf Coast games later this week or early next week. His return is probably the hardest to predict because of his extensive injury history, but it wouldn't be totally shocking to me if he's not ready until after the All-Star break. That, however, is just a guess.

Reliever Jim Johnson (slight tear in right elbow): He has been pain-free in his flat-ground sessions and could graduate to throwing off a mound at some point this week. He remains a ways away, with interim manager Juan Samuel saying yesterday that JJ probably wouldn't return until mid- to late July and after the All-Star break.

Second baseman Brian Roberts (herniated disk): Roberts has been shut down from any baseball activity for the time being. Samuel said in San Francisco that he had spoken to Roberts and estimated that he was four to six weeks away from a return. That means you are probably looking at August at the earliest. But there have been a lot of stops and starts in Roberts' situation, making this one difficult to predict as well.

Posted by Jeff Zrebiec at 8:07 AM | | Comments (16)


At this point in the season with the O's Win-Loss record indicating that this season is Experimental at best and an unknown manager on the horizon, The GM decisions are key. I wonder if trading Gonzalez might be considered. I still support Roberts being given the entire year to heal. Give Scott Moore a real chance! Uehara might also be tradable but his durability must be publicly certified first. Johnson & Pie are the 2010 contributors to now consider. Johnson needs a lengthy rehab to heal and to get his mechanics straightened out. Pie will be a plus in left and let Luke Scott concentrate on hitting.

Roberts obviously isn't going to help them this year. Rest, rehab and PT hasn't gotten it done.

Given the date, the way the O's are playing and the uncertainty of his back, why haven't they "forced" surgery on Roberts and get him ready for 2011?

Roberts will not be back this year - nor should the O's brass even try to force the issue. A herniated disk is a serious injury. Treatment and recovery are not straight forward. We should be more worried whether he will even be ready for 2011. He may be done for his career...which would be really bad luck for this doomed franchise.

You can never know how many losses are attributed to a single cause, but you have to think that BRob's absence in the leadoff spot - as well as his excellent play at 2nd base - is sorely missed. Maybe 10 wins?

Why don't they just shut Roberts down for the year? This back issue if not taken care of now will linger into next year.

I'm not very confident that the imminent return of Pie, Gonzalez, Uehara, and Johnson means that help is on the way. That's a pretty pathetic cavalry.

Papier Mache Pie has a lot of rehab work to do. Sounds like an injury to rehappen.

Guesswork Gonzalez is going to pitch a simulated game. What's that? 17 pitches, three strikes, two wild pitches and a blown save?

Koji can go to the Gulf Coast alright -- the Gulf Coast of Japan. There is no point in having him anymore.

Johnson and Roberts? It would be nice if they could come back, but there's no need to rush either of them.

For the love of God, shut Brian Roberts down and get him healthy for next season.

There is ZERO reason to rush him back this year and aggravate/worsen his injury.

What's the difference between 45 and 47 wins anyway??

Why is Koji still on the roster, just send him home to Japan and cut your losses. I also agree about Brob, he's not playing this year.

You really have to wonder what they are thinking with roberts. Have the surgery now and stop screwing with it . This year is a lost cause. I had the same surgical procedure that awaits roberts. It was the best decision of my life. I was playing basketball in 8 weeks time.



What are your thoughts on Roberts? It seems like we've known for the emperor isn't wearing any clothes for like three weeks now, but the club is still claiming there's a chance he's wearing a skin-colored bikini. I mean what's going on here. He's been dealt setback after setback and is now 6 weeks away from returning to a team that just became the 7th ever (I believe) to lose 50 of its first 70 games? What is going on here?

I understand the push for a long time was to convince us that his season could still be salvaged and that they'd made the right decision in going full-speed ahead in ST to get him ready for the season. But come on. What exactly is the point in him not having surgery? With this team, shouldn't the priority be to do everything we can to make sure he's ready for next year? I just don't get it. I can't imagine what the argument is to pushing forward so that he gets 40-50 games in the last half of the season. At what point are they going to seriously consider season ending surgery?

Jeff Z's reply: I'm sure they'd consider it if that's what the variety of back specialists that Roberts is seeing recommended it. Both MacPhail recently and Roberts earlier this year siad that it wasn't discussed as an option. I've never had a serious back injury but I'm told that back surgery is very, very serious and you avoid it at all costs if you can. I don't think Brian is avoiding back surgery because he wants to play in the Orioles last 30 games this year. I think he hasn't had it because the doctors haven't recommended it or so we've been told.

What difference does having these guys back make? Ratings are up so it's a successful season, according to the owner. Baltimore has one major league sports franchise - the Ravens.

Note to Jason, the difference between 45 and 47 wins could be first or second spot in the draft. I agree with you about Roberts. But, I suspect union rules will force the O's to play him if Roberts elects that path. Surgery at this point would seem logical if there was a strong probability of success but back surgery is usually much less certain as to results. I for one think the guy most affected by Roberts absence has been Markakis. Roberts and Markakis were the only players on the roster with All Star quality skills and Markakis can't do it by himself. Jones or Pie could have stepped in but Jones is young, impulsive and lacks patience at the plate and of course Pie got hurt. Pie is the most important currently injured guy IMO. If he continues his early success during the last 80 games this year it will provide some stability to try and build from. Good luck with that infield though.

Why is this organization still trying to force Roberts to come back this year? There is a good chance that his career is over, why increase those chances. Back injuries are serious business. Let him continue to rehabilitate and receive therapy. Cease all baseball and physical activity until December. This man needs to heal. Besides the team hasn't won with him since the day he arrived. Is something suppose to change with him back and playing in pain?

Jeff Z's reply: Again David, where are you getting your information that the Orioles are forcing Roberts to come back? Trust me, if Roberts told the team that he'd like to just take the season off and rehab int ime to be ready for next spring training, I'm sure the Orioles would consider his wishes. Nobody is forcing Brian to do anything. That's just a ridiculous statement.

How do you people know B Rob needs surgery? I had the same injury he has now I did not have surgery at the advice of my doctor and my herniated disk went away after 6-8 months of rest and physical therapy. Surgery is risky, and sometimes complicates the injury further.

Am I the only person who knows that Gonzalez is about to be lost for the season? When he is pushed back in the lime light, he will re-injure himself and be back in 2011. Am I really the only one who knows this? I know that true fans know what's going to happen. Does anyone really have to speculate as to why he's lost 6 miles per hour off his fast ball. Don't make me say what we all already know....

Jeff Z's reply: Yes David, you're the only one who knows that a guy with two tears in his shoulder may come back and then need to go back on the disabled list. So what do you want the Orioles to do? Just say, "Stay down in Sarasota Mike, and don't try to pitch again." What's your point? It's not like the Orioles are touting him as the savior of the bullpen when he returns. They know they made a huge mistake by signing him.

Maybe Gonzalez will turn out to be a bad signing, but the truth is we don't know yet.. If you judge on one year wigginton was a hopeless signing and we sure won't be out as much as toronto was with B J RYAN. I wouldn't mind seeing ie in left and Patterson DH if we trade Scott Wigginton, Lugo and Millwood

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About the bloggers
A Baltimore native, Dan Connolly has been covering sports for 14 years, and baseball and the Orioles for 10 seasons, including the past six with The Sun. His first year covering baseball on a daily basis was Cal Ripken Jr.'s final season as a player. It's believed that is just a coincidence.

Steve Gould is an assistant sports editor for The Sun, overseeing Orioles coverage. The Columbia native joined The Sun as a sports copy editor in 2006 after graduating from the University of Maryland.

Peter Schmuck has been covering baseball for a lot longer than Steve Gould has been on this earth. He is now a general sports columnist, but has been a beat writer covering three major league teams (the Dodgers, Angels and Orioles) and also spent a decade as the Sun's national baseball writer. If you want more of his insight on the Orioles and other sports issues, check out his personal blog -- The Schmuck Stops Here.

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