Orioles news: 2023 return possible for Félix Bautista

The Orioles might regain their all-star closer this season
Aug 14, 2023; San Diego, California, USA; Baltimore Orioles relief pitcher Felix Bautista (74) stares in as he gets ready to deliver a pitch
Aug 14, 2023; San Diego, California, USA; Baltimore Orioles relief pitcher Felix Bautista (74) stares in as he gets ready to deliver a pitch / Orlando Ramirez-USA TODAY Sports

Ahead of Monday's series opener against the St. Louis Cardinals, Orioles executive vice president and GM Mike Elias met with reporters and gave an update on the health of all-star closer Félix Bautista, currently on the 15 Day IL with a UCL injury.

Up until this point, the only thing Elias and the Orioles confirmed was that Bautista had a UCL injury, though they wouldn't go into more specifics about the type of injury and how long it would take him to recover, only that his UCL was injured, and they were hoping he could come back this season.

Mike Elias gives injury update on closer Félix Bautista

What we know now after Elias spoke is that Bautista does indeed have a torn UCL. That would normally require Tommy John Surgery and at least a year out of action, but in Bautista's case, his UCL is not completely torn. Elias classified the injury as "an acute-on-chronic injury to his ligament."

So instead, Bautista does not need Tommy John Surgery, and the Orioles are hoping rest and rehabilitation does the trick for the big righty. He previously played catch on the road in Anaheim and Boston before doing so on Monday at home, which has been the only baseball activity for Bautista since landing on the IL initially.

With this news, the Orioles could regain Bautista this season, as his elbow has reportedly been responding well to playing catch on flat ground. If a return is to happen at some point this season, Bautista will have to begin more strenuous activity and likely a rehab assignment before any return to action can take place.

At this point, with less than a month before the regular season ends, a return for Bautista would more than likely happen in the playoffs, although a regular season return is still in the cards. Elias did say the Orioles are hoping Bautista can return in the regular season.

Since hitting the IL, the Orioles have used a few different arms in the ninth inning. Yennier Cano has picked up a pair of saves, while Shintaro Fujinami has one. DL Hall, Jacob Webb, Danny Coulombe, and Cionel Pérez have also seen time in the ninth in non-save situations.

The update given on Bautista by Elias is good news, as he does not have a full tear and can avoid Tommy John Surgery. There is still a possibility he could need the procedure in the future if things get sidetracked, but the Orioles have good news on their all-star closer right now. Hopefully, Mountain Time returns to Camden Yards sooner rather than later.