Dylan Bundy, the Orioles' top pitching prospect, said he has a calcium buildup in the back of his right shoulder – a rarity among baseball players – that caused soreness and inflammation this past month and will shut him down for the near future.
Bundy, 22, visited renowned orthopedist Dr. James Andrews on Monday and was told that he would not need surgery, but the rare calcification in his right shoulder will need to "mature," so he must rest it and not throw until the soreness subsides. That could be in "two weeks, one month, two months, three months." He hasn't pitched in a game since throwing four innings May 21 for Double-A Bowie.
"There's always hope" to pitch again in 2015, he said. "It just depends on how much time I have to take off and how long it takes to get back."
When asked whether Bundy could pitch in a game this year, Orioles manager Buck Showalter said, "Is Fall League this year? It's considered this year, right? He's just kind of shut down for the near future.
"Kind of let everything calm down, see where we are. But, depending on how you look at it, [it's] probably as good of news as you can expect."
Bundy, whose rigorous training regimen as an amateur raised eyebrows within the organization when he was selected and again when he had to undergo elbow surgery in 2013, was working his way back to the big leagues and was hoping to rejoin the big league club this September.
He said he was relieved by Monday's diagnosis, but was befuddled by the calcification in the shoulder; Andrews told him it was the most extreme case he had seen and that it is much more prevalent in leg muscles such as hamstrings and quadriceps.
The best guess, Bundy said, is that he strained a shoulder muscle and the bleeding from that produced calcium, and the calcification caused the soreness and, subsequently, affected his range of motion.
"It makes it more disappointing that it's a rare case for a shoulder, that it doesn't usually happen like that," Bundy said. "So it's a little scary, especially because we can't say why it happened or how it happened."
The club's first pick in 2011 was ballyhooed from the moment he was taken with the fourth overall selection out of an Oklahoma High School. He signed a major league deal – no longer permitted by the collective bargaining agreement – and made his big league debut in September 2012, throwing 1 2/3 scoreless innings.
He's been derailed since because of injury, but has used up a minor league option each year. Next season, Bundy will be without minor league options, and cannot be demoted without passing through waivers – which he likely wouldn't clear given his potential. So, he will have to make the Orioles out of spring training or be placed on the big-league disabled list to remain with the organization.
Bundy said he will report back to the club's minor league facility in Sarasota, Fla., and remain there getting treatment and waiting for the soreness to leave so he can throw again.
"It's definitely not fun to go through something like this," Bundy said. "But I'll work to make the best of it and get back to where I should be."