First workouts overshadowed by Oriole injury concerns


Yesterday marked the first workout of the 2012 season for Orioles’ pitchers and catchers. In terms of getting though the offseason, that’s progress! There are a lot of opinions out there regarding Dan Duquette and the job that he’s done in building this team in the offseason. However regardless of how you want to look at it, the fact is that the Orioles have depth on their pitching staff. Using the theory that the cream always rises to the top, the O’s are guaranteed to bring their five best spring training pitchers north as part of the rotation. As for that depth, they may need to use all of it.

In my opinion the Orioles have had depth at various spots over the course of the past couple of years. (Perhaps not as much as they have now, however the depth has been there.) However they’ve quickly gone through that depth in the sense that guys have gotten hurt and suddenly their “depth is on the field.” Robert Andino is a prime example of this; he’s spent so much time on the field backing up various positions that he’s turned into a starter for the most part. Keep in mind that at one point the Orioles were using reliever Chris Jakubauskas (now of the Arizona Diamondbacks) as a spot starter last year. Over the course of the past two seasons, guys have dropped left and right at various times.

Unfortunately this trend might be continuing, as it was revealed this past week that Zach Britton was still suffering from shoulder soreness as a result of his injury last year. Yesterday we also heard that Jim Johnson was suffering from some lower back injuries. Peachy, huh? For a team that’s had injuries literally wipe out the potential for any promise over the past couple of seasons, these admittedly small tweaks are concerning. If “Hannah Montana” (aka-Miley Cyrus) can get caught smoking weed I suppose anything is possible; for all we know those will be the worst injuries that befall the team this spring. However most fans probably assume that this is nothing more than a harbinger of what the regular season will bring.

Again, this is where the depth comes in. Buck Showalter said that neither player is expected to be hindered by either injury going into the regular season. However Buck’s not a doctor or a prophet, and for the record neither am I. It’s really just a matter of seeing how both players react to treatment and workouts, presuming they’re getting the proper treatment.

I do take Showalter at his word when it comes to Britton and Johnson. It’s Brian Roberts that I think most people are really worried about. Nobody has said one way or the other if Roberts would be ready for Opening Day. However it would seem to me that Buck Showalter is making contingency plans based upon his comments saying that Robert Andino would have a chance to compete for the second base job. Roberts’ affect on games can’t be stressed enough, and the Orioles are a much more versatille team with him batting at the top of the lineup.

This is just a hunch, but I think that the odds of Roberts being in the lineup on Opening Day (or at the very least sometime in April) are better than most fans probably believe. However needless to say, concussions are nothing to laugh at, and there’s no question that he shouldn’t play if he’s not totally comfortable. In fact, the same should and could be said about Britton and Johnson. I think we saw the affects of rushing a pitcher back from injury too early over the course of the past two seasons with the likes of Matusz, Bergesen, and Tillman. Athletes are going to get hurt at some point; it’s almost a given. It’s how you deal with the injuries that makes you into who you are…

…you can argue that the Orioles haven’t handled any of these injuries very well. Notice I didn’t say the players, I said the Orioles. Rushing a guy back from injury is a great way to aggravate the injury further. Again, I take Showalter at his word on Britton and Johnson. However it goes without saying that Oriole fans could have done without news like this before the team even played a game together.

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