Reliever Darren O’Day hyperextended his right elbow in a freak accident while stretching in the Orioles bullpen during Tuesday night’s game, and while both the club and O’Day are optimistic he will be able to return from the disabled list when he is eligible Wednesday, they still must gauge his recovery over the next few days to be certain.
O’Day said he began stretching in the middle innings of Tuesday’s game when another reliever ran into his space and hit his arm.
“It was a freak accident,” O’Day said. “My arm felt great. … I threw two innings in Oakland. There was nothing related to that. It felt good. It’s frustrating because to succeed you have to stay on the field. I felt good. I felt like I was pitching better. It was just a freak accident.”
O’Day said the pain from the initial hit made him worry it was a serious injury, but an MRI revealed no structural damage.
“I thought it was something that I thought I may be out for a long time because it hurt quite a bit,” O’Day said. “We got an MRI and everything is structurally fine. … I think I’ll be fine, at least I’m hoping. It didn’t feel good at the time and I really was pretty worried about it. … Hopefully it will be just the 10 days.”
O’Day still must throw before he can get a better gauge of whether he could make the DL date, and he said he will likely resume throwing within the next few days.
“This is a common football injury, but it’s a different animal because they don’t have to pitch, which involves arm extension,” O’Day said. “It’s feeling a lot better today. I had a lot of swelling in there and now it’s gone down. I don’t know. I haven’t picked a ball up to throw, so we’ll see. That will come hopefully soon.”
Said manager Buck Showalter: “He feels pretty good today. He’s sore in the right places now. I think getting the MRI behind him [is good]. I think anytime you take an MRI of the shoulder or elbow X-ray of a pitcher, even at [age] 25 and especially at 30-plus, you’re going to find something, but this one was remarkably good.
“I think Darren feels real good about that because you always have some bated breath when you’re going through that. … Ask me in a couple days and I’ll have a better feel if he continues to make the improvement.”
The timing of the injury is frustrating for O’Day because he felt he was beginning to get into a rhythm. He allowed a run in his most recent outing Friday in Oakland, but recorded back-to-back scoreless outings before that. Over his past three outings, O’Day had retired eight of the 11 hitters he faced and recorded five strikeouts with no walks.
Vielma injury sparks Showalter’s fire with on-field bullpens
After infielder Engelb Vielma suffered a fractured kneecap in his first game back with Triple-A Norfolk on Wednesday while chasing down a ball in foul ground near the on-field bullpen area in Durham, N.C., Showalter expressed his frustration with the fact that bullpens still exist in the field of play.
“Brutal and it’s so avoidable,” Showalter said. “Infield in, running into deep foul territory and trips over the mounds on the field and bangs kneecap into the concrete. It’s hard to imagine in today’s game that we can’t make that mandatory, Triple-A, Double-A, big leagues. We have mounds on the playing field. Really? It just infuriates me. … I don’t understand it.”
Vielma will need surgery to repair his kneecap and will likely miss at least two months. The Orioles could put Vielma on the 60-day DL to open a 40-man roster spot, but would have to pay Vielma a major league salary while he is on the DL.
“He just got his feet tangled up going over the mound … Can anybody explain to me why we still have that happen? In the field of play? [It’s like] we’re going to put a mound at the 40-yard line in football, we’re going to put a mound at the free-throw line in the NBA playoffs. Come on.”
Of the Orioles’ minor league affiliates, only Short-A Aberdeen and Triple-A Norfolk don’t have their bullpens within the field of play.
Around the horn
Utility man Jace Peterson will make his first Orioles start at third base Thursday and his first overall at the position since Aug. 31, 2017, with the Atlanta Braves against the Chicago Cubs. … Showalter said he hasn’t decided on the first-game starter in Saturday’s doubleheader against the Tampa Bay Rays, saying that a lot will depend on how the Orioles use their bullpen Thursday. “There’s a lot of moving variables right now,” Showalter said. Alex Cobb will start the second game. … The Orioles still plan on bringing up a 26th player for Saturday’s doubleheader, likely a pitcher. That player must remain with the team for both games, but the team can also option a player between games to create roster space for the second game.