Orioles reliever Mark Williamson has suffered a setback in his recovery from inflammation in his throwing elbow and might not return to the team for 10 weeks.
Manager Johnny Oates said before last night's game that a bone chip had been discovered in Williamson's right elbow during a doctor's examination here.
Williamson said he hopes to be examined by Dr. James Andrews, a noted sports physician who practices in Birmingham, Ala., in the next few days.
Williamson said Andrews would evaluate whether he would need arthroscopic surgery.
"It's something that you don't want to get if you don't have to," said Williamson. "We'll get a second opinion and see what happens."
Oates said Orioles team physician Charles E. Silberstein recommended the surgery and said Williamson could be out for four to 10 weeks.
"The best scenario would be four weeks, but from the tone of his voice . . . he led me to think 10 weeks," said Oates.
"If everything is perfect, I might be throwing in a month and pitching in two months, provided they go in and don't find something wrong in the joint," said Williamson, 32.
Williamson said Silberstein discovered no structural damage in the elbow and found that, though there was more than one bone chip, only one seemed to be causing the difficulty.
Williamson, used mostly in long relief, made two appearances this season, giving up one run and four hits, before he was placed on the 15-day disabled list April 16, complaining of inflammation in his elbow.
Oates said Williamson, who went on the disabled list last August with a muscle strain in his left side, had experienced some discomfort during spring training but continued to pitch.
While he's been disabled, Williamson had been playing catch and had felt some discomfort.
"It's frustrating to not pitch, then throw off a mound, and, four hours later, my elbow doesn't move," said Williamson.
"When he stopped throwing, the inflammation went down, but when he started throwing again, it would come back. But they didn't find the chip until the inflammation went down," said Oates.
"He's relieved to know that there's a reason for him to hurt. And so am I."
The Orioles bullpen has performed well, but has been depleted by the departures of Williamson and left-hander Jim Poole, who went on the disabled list before Opening Day with tendinitis in his throwing shoulder.
However, the long relief duties have been handled by Alan Mills, who was called up to take Williamson's slot on the roster from Triple-A Rochester.
Mills, who was acquired from the New York Yankees in spring training for pitcher Francisco de la Rosa, is 2-0 with a 0.66 ERA in three appearances.
"That's what depth is all about. Give our front-office people a lot of credit for making that deal," said Oates.
"With Poole being disabled, if we lost both those guys, we'd be hurting. That spring training deal didn't look like much at the time, did it?
"I feel kind of bad. I was here through the whole homestand and the one day I wasn't here, we lost. Maybe I jinxed the team," said Williamson.