A Little Concerned


Maybe it is just that I tend to worry, or maybe it is that there seems to be a few more nagging injuries than usual this spring. There will always be injuries in baseball and teams will have to find ways to win despite them. However, it is usually the healthiest teams that have the best chance of winning games. This is no different with the Baltimore Orioles.

2011 is such a critical year for the Orioles. Andy MacPhail and the Orioles have been very busy this offseason and acquired a number of players in order to try to get over the hump and turn this franchise around. No one is expecting a championship in 2011, but there has to be significant improvement. Fans can’t take another miserable season.

It has been good news, bad news so far. The bad news is there have been a lot of players going through the injury bug this spring training, the good news is, the injuries all seem to be rather minor. The following players have been afflicted with some sort of injury so far this spring: Derrek Lee, Brian Roberts, Cesar Izturis, Brian Matusz, Koji Uehara, and Justin Duchscherer.

As I said earlier, none of these guys seem to be in serious danger of missing opening day so far. However, managers and players tend to be positive when it comes to coming back from injuries…especially before opening day. Guys like Roberts, Uehara, Lee, and Duchscherer have missed significant time due to injuries in the past, which worries me for this season.

I am probably most worried about Roberts. He first had a stick neck and now is experiencing back spasms. This is one guy, the Orioles can’t replace. Sure, they have Izturis (who rolled his ankle recently), but he will not be able to fill in at the leadoff spot. The problem is there isn’t anyone on the Orioles roster who can fill in at the leadoff spot and create that spark at the top of the order like Roberts can. I am a little worried. Roberts isn’t expected to be out long, but considering it is his back that is bothering him, you never know how this can turn out.

Lee had an MRI on his wrist that has been sore since having surgery back in November. It came back negative, which is good, but you also have to be worried that he still is bothered by it and hasn’t seen game action yet. Uehara had a cortisone shot in his elbow and isn’t expected to throw until the end of this week, which should reveal more about when he will be ready. Uehara is a very fragile pitcher, but also an effective one that the Orioles need at the back end of that bullpen.

Duchscherer and Matusz both pitched this week and hopefully will stay injury free until opening day. Duchscherer was having problems with his hip, which he had surgery on in the past, but he is scheduled to pitch again on Sunday. Matusz had a wart removed from his finger, which he apparently was having problems with during the second half of last season. If you remember, Matusz was starting to come into his own during the second half. The real concern may be that they removed the wart.

So far the panic level hasn’t reached Albert Belle like proportions. However, I would say fans should be particularly concerned about Roberts who is the one guy they will not be able to replace at the top of the lineup. As opening day comes closer hopefully these guys will start to feel better and work their way back onto the field. There is always the chance though that something similar will happen that occurred last season and some of these guys will have to be shut down or put on the DL. Let’s hope the Orioles have a little better luck in 2011.