I have to question sometimes what exactly the Orioles have done to tick off the baseball Gods over the course of the past few seasons. It seems like anytime they’ve had a young player that’s shown any sort of promise, he’s ended up on the DL. While many other players were hurt last year as well, 2011 saw rookie pitcher Zach Britton added to that list with shoulder issues. Like every other pitcher on the Orioles’ roster, Britton is no shoo-in to make the big league roster this season, however a healthy Zach Britton on the roster certainly would go a long way towards helping the Orioles have a productive season.
I guess you can strike that idea; MLB analyst and former Orioles’ GM Jim Duquette sent out this tweet this morning regarding Britton. Long story short, it seems that Britton’s shoulder injury is flaring up again. As I said above, I have to question what the Orioles have done to create such poor moxie when it comes to injuries. If you remember back to last season, it was Brian Matusz that was hurt going into camp, and he ended up coming back too early and posting the highest ERA for a pitcher in recorded history. But let me not get ahead of myself; in subsequent tweets Duquette was careful to say that it was unclear what affect this would have on Britton’s availability in terms of being on the roster. He said that Britton (along with Nick Markakis who had surgery for a sports hernia) would be “limited” in spring training. That doesn’t necessarily mean he’s done for the season or even that he won’t see action this spring. Take it at face value I suppose…but also keep in mind the way these kinds of things normally go for the Orioles.
According to Brittany Ghiroli, mlb.com’s Oriole beat reporter, it’s unclear as to whether or not this injury was sustained at last month’s “mini-camp” at FanFest, or anything else. Roch Kubatoko of masnsports.com went on to say that Britton was fine when he worked out at Camden Yards last month. So was it the mini-camp itself that caused this flair-up? I suppose that would be a tragic irony, and add to the “unfairness” of the whole situation. Having brought that up, I’ve questioned for some time the tactics that the Orioles’ sports medicine staff use to rehabilitate injured players. I’m not a doctor or trainer, so it’s not for me to say whether or not the staff is doing right or not. However based on the number of injuries that are sustained over the course of the season (and the nature of those injuries) and the difficulty that ensues when players try to rehab themselves, it’s something worth asking. In fact, this is now the second “flair-up” that’s occurred in terms of off season activities; remember a couple of years ago when Brad Bergesen injured himself throwing for a MASN commercial? And now this; it’s all kind of freak, but as I said I don’t think it would hurt them to look at what’s being done for injured players.
Based upon recent history it’s easy to get yourself into the mindset that this is going to be Brian Matusz all over again, and that Britton’s season will be a disaster. Let’s not get ahead of ourselves; Jim Duquette said that Britton would be limited, not necessarily out. Hopefully he’s able to get the care he needs in order to ensure that he’s in top shape once things really get rolling.
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