It is probably not a good thing when the primary news about your team in mid January is a list of medical issues. However, if those news items were all positive reports, I suppose it could be argued that it is the best news for the winter.
Buck Showalter appeared on a radio broadcast last night and spoke of the progress on the Baltimore Orioles’ cast of wounded warriors. It was more good news than bad, but you never seem to get a perfect report on this subject.
The news that might generate greatest concern is related to Wei-Yin Chen. Apparently his recovery from knee surgery to deal with bone chips is progressing more slowly than hoped or anticipated. That is unsettling to hear, especially about a guy whose rap is that he cannot pitch deeply into games in the five-man rotation. Indeed, his statistics speak to that with some clarity. The ERA goes up as the innings go on in a game, and, the same is generally true throughout the season. On the other hand, he is working out with Chris Tillman and a group of others in California. I believe Tillman’s ascendance to the top of the rotation had as much to do with his offseason work as with any other single factor, though surely the talent potential was always very high.
On the more positive side is word that others are progressing well, especially Manny Machado. As I’ve often said, it’s great to be young. Yet at the same time, it might be that the season comes up just a few weeks sooner than would be optimal for his complete recovery. But Showalter said the young man will not be rushed, that Manny’s “worth waiting for.” Yep, no doubt.
I did not actually hear the program and have only read remarks and transcript smippets, but at least by inference Nolan Reimold and Dylan Bundy are progressing well with their recoveries. A completely recovered Reimold could do more to affect the coming season than any of the moves or hoped-for maneuvers of the Orioles in this strange offseason. And the same could be said for Bundy for the 2015 season.
In other medical news, the Grant Balfour debacle is the controversy that never goes away. And it is far from the gift that keeps on giving, it is rather the gift that keeps on annoying. Showalter also had some unusually strong and critical language about the cast of doctors outside the organization who weighed in on the pitcher’s shoulder and condition.
Speaking of weighing things, that is what Buck is masterful at doing with his words. He talks a lot and gives a great deal of information, but does so in such a calculated verbiage of wisdom and caution. Check out our Orioles site on this Network – Birds Watcher – for a full discussion about this and the seemingly odd nature of Balfour not having signed elsewhere if he’s so healthy. Honestly, I wish he was healthy, that he was coming to the O’s on the terms negotiated, and that I was not writing this paragraph.
In other news just beyond the medical, in a variety of sources it has been reported that A.J. Burnett is more likely to retire than return to playing. This was the essence of comments yesterday by the Pirates’ pitching coach Ray Searage, who said,
“I’m on the percentage point where he’s not going to come back. … I’ve got to prepare the pitching with no A.J. So that’s the route I’m going. If he does come back – hey, all right! But right now, I’m leaning that way, where he’s going to retire.”
That, and about $2.99 at a discount grocer will buy you a gallon of milk. If I was Duquette, I think I’d flip back a letter in the rolodex to the “A” section under the heading of Bronson Arroyo.
OK … gonna go scrape the ice off the windows of the car and drive up the road. God, could we just get to playing baseball again?