How big a problem is Wada’s discomfort for the Orioles?


As was reported yesterday, Oriole southpaw Tsuyioshi Wada is going to be held out of practice for a few days down in Sarasota due to discomfort in his left elbow. This is not the kind of news that anyone wanted to hear; especially on a team that’s been ravaged by injuries the past few years, and who’s success this season hinges largely on it’s ability to stay healthy. I guess the problem in Wada’s situation is that he’s a brand new player to the team. This isn’t a case like that of Zach Britton or Jake Arrieta whereby Wada is coming off an injury from last season and is having a flair-up of sorts. This is a guy that was brought in during the off season as someone that could potentially help the Orioles’ pitching staff and to open them up to international markets. And now this happens…

The real question is the extent of this injury. According to Wada, this is something that “barks at him” (as Buck Showalter would say) each February. Before you play that off as ridiculous I’ll tell you that I injured my right shoulder a few years ago playing basketball, and to this day I normally start to feel pain for about three weeks around October or November (when it starts to get cold). So that is in fact possible. I have two issues with this; first off, why did Wada not tell Orioles’ brass about this when he signed? It would stand to reason that if he knows he’s going to feel discomfort for a few days in February, he might want to let that on at the beginning. As for the second issue, let’s say he did let them know; did the Orioles simply gloss over that fact?

In fairness, Wada has also said that if he was in Japan he wouldn’t have even brought this issue to the trainer’s attention. He probably would have sat out a few days and waited for it to subside, and then hit the mound again. In fact he wants to work out today, however the Orioles are having none of that. It would stand to reason that the O’s had some idea that he would go through this each year (if in fact that’s true), because one would think they reviewed Wada’s medical records prior to signing him. I suppose what I’m getting at is that I’d hate to think the Orioles didn’t do their due dilligence in scouting this guy both on the field and off. I’m reminded of last season when they brought in Justin Duchscherer, presumably to be the 5th starter. Duchscherer started one spring training game and never saw the field throughout the season because he was hurt. I’d hate to see a repeat performance from Wada this season.

I take Wada and the Orioles’ training staff at their word when they say this is really nothing to worry about…for now. As “The Byrds” told us in “Turn, Turn, Turn,” for all things there is a season. This must be the time for his elbow to hurt. Furthermore, x-rays of Wada’s elbow came back negative in terms of structural damage. He received a cortisone injection after having it drained. That would be the athlete’s version of the doctor saying “take two of these before going to bed and come back and see me in the morning.”

Not to sound cliche, but it’s really a “wait and see” kind of thing. I’ll be honest, I’m not overly worried about it (gut feeling). If Wada’s back on the mound throwing at some point this week, we’ll put this in “file 13.” If not, there’s a chance that Wada could end up as 2012’s Justin Duchscherer. One thing Wada did say yesterday was that he was afraid this was leaving him a bit behind the other pitchers in terms of competing for a rotation spot. Be that as it may, I suppose it’s better to let his elbow rest as opposed to having him “work through it.”

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