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Orioles place Yovani Gallardo on 15-day disabled list, extent of injury uncertain

Baltimore Orioles starting pitcher Yovani Gallardo throws during the first inning of a baseball game against the Kansas City Royals on Friday, April 22, 2016, in Kansas City, Mo.
Baltimore Orioles starting pitcher Yovani Gallardo throws during the first inning of a baseball game against the Kansas City Royals on Friday, April 22, 2016, in Kansas City, Mo. (Charlie Riedel / AP)

KANSAS CITY, MO. — The Orioles placed right-hander Yovani Gallardo on the 15-day disabled list with what the club described as right biceps tendinitis Saturday. The team will have a better idea of the extent of his injury after he undergoes an MRI on his ailing right shoulder Sunday morning.

Gallardo left Friday's 4-2 loss to the Kansas City Royals after just two innings. He said after the game that he felt discomfort in his throwing shoulder during his pregame warmup and that it worsened throughout his outing.

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Gallardo flew back to Baltimore on Saturday afternoon and is slated to undergo an MRI and see team orthopedist Dr. Michael Jacobs on Sunday.

"Nobody really knows," Orioles manager Buck Showalter said. "Until we get the MRI and Dr. Jacobs sees him, you don't know exactly what it is. ... I don't think anybody knows exactly what's causing the symptoms he has. It's not acute pain or anything. He just felt, I know how he described it to me down the runway, but it wasn't like he was feeling acute pain or anything.

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"It was just general weakness there. You kind of think of when you're trying to shoot a bow and arrow. When you draw back the bow, there's some tautness there and you feel like there's a good strong base to throw off of, he just didn't feel strong there last night."

This is the first time in Gallardo's 10-year career that he's gone on the DL with an arm-related injury. He's been on the DL four previous times, but just once since 2010, when he missed 15 games with a left hamstring strain.

Gallardo came to the Orioles with a remarkable track record of durability, making at least 30 starts and logging 184 or more innings for each of the past seven seasons, which also means his arm has a significant amount of wear and tear from those years of work.

His contract with the Orioles this February was restructured — the Orioles are guaranteeing Gallardo $22 million over two years — because of concerns about wear on his shoulder that emerged in his club physical.

After going unsigned all offseason in part because he was tied to draft pick compensation after declining a one-year, $15.8 million qualifying offer from the Texas Rangers, Gallardo initially agreed to a three-year, $35 million deal with the Orioles that also included a $13 million club option for a fourth season.

Even though the Orioles were interested in Gallardo since early in the offseason, they were hesitant to pursue him because signing him made the team forfeit their first-round pick — the 14th overall selection — in this year's draft.

After concerns about his shoulder arose, the sides were able to renegotiate a deal that essentially gave Gallardo the same salary over the first two years of the deal but didn't include a third guaranteed year. It did include a $13 million club option for a third.

In evaluating Gallardo, they will compare his current tests to those from his club physical before he signed. Showalter is optimistic Gallardo won't be shelved for long, saying the pitcher might just need rest or an injection before going on a throwing program.

"Because of the baseline of looking at the other stuff from the physical, we'll see if there's anything different going on there," Showalter said. "I'm hoping they might — a lot like [Kevin] Gausman, a lot like Jason Garcia [last year] — they give him an injection and kind of start over a little bit with him."

But the Orioles couldn't have predicted Gallardo would get hurt so soon into his Orioles career.

Through his four starts spanning just 18 innings, Gallardo's fastball averaged only 87.3 mph, more than 3 mph slower than last year and the continuation of an incremental velocity drop-off. Despite that decline, Gallardo uses an array of breaking-ball pitches — a slider, cutter and a curveball — to keep hitters off balance.

Gallardo's injury came one start after he pitched into the seventh inning for the first time this season, marking just the second time he's gone beyond six innings in his last 15 starts dating to Aug. 4

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What is certain is that the team was confident he would be out at least the 15 days necessitated by a stint on the DL. He will be eligible to be activated on May 6, when the Orioles open a three-game home series against the Oakland Athletics.

The move to place Gallardo on the DL allowed the Orioles to activate left-hander Brian Matusz from the DL without losing a bullpen piece.

Had Gallardo not been placed on the DL on Saturday, the team likely would have optioned left-handed long man T.J. McFarland, who will be unavailable for the next few days after throwing five shutout innings in relief (66 pitches) of Gallardo on Friday.

eencina@baltsun.com
twitter.com/EddieInTheYard

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