ST. PETERSBURG, FLA. — Orioles pitcher Yovani Gallardo was encouraged by an MRI performed Sunday that revealed no further damage to his right shoulder.
After an exam in Baltimore with team orthopedist Dr. Michael Jacobs, the Orioles found that Gallardo's MRI showed no changes from the one taken two months ago during his club physical before signing with the team.
Gallardo was diagnosed with right shoulder tendinitis and received a cortisone injection to reduce the inflammation in his shoulder. He rejoined the club on Monday for its three-game series in Tampa Bay, where he will receive treatment and begin shoulder strengthening exercises.
"I think it's one of those things that pretty much at some point you get it throughout your career," Gallardo said. "But it's just a matter of strengthening, making the muscles stronger around the shoulder. That's the game plan. And hopefully I'll get back out there as quickly as I can."
The team expects that recovery time will be about four weeks. Gallardo said that he hopes to return sooner, but his main goal is making sure the injury doesn't reoccur.
"I think honestly the times I've been on the DL you can't really put a set date on it," Gallardo said. "You kind of want to say it will be before that and obviously that's my goal, to try to make sure it's right. I'll try to get out there as quickly as I can and not have to deal with it again after that. I think that's the most important thing. Just whatever time it takes, just get it right and get back out there as quickly as I can and let that be the end of it, instead of going back and forth.
"This sucks," Gallardo added. "I'm not the kind of person that likes being on the DL. It's one of those things. But yet again, you also know you've got to be smart about it. At the end of the day you'd rather be out there pitching healthy at 100 percent and playing for these guys instead of just not being able to know what I'm going to get out of it."
Orioles manager Buck Showalter said he thought Gallardo's late start to spring training -- he first workout came six days into workouts for pitchers and catchers -- might have had something to do with the injury. The Orioles were interested in Gallardo all offseason, but he remained unsigned going into spring training, mainly because teams didn't want to forfeit the draft pick tied to him.
He also initially agreed to a three-year, $35 million deal with the Orioles, but a concern with Gallardo's shoulder that emerged from the club's pre-signing club physical also delayed his arrival. Gallardo eventually signed a restructured deal guaranteeing him $22 million over two years.
"He wasn't behind, but there wasn't much of a margin of error there and I think he might have pushed a little early, so I think this could be a good period for him," Showalter said. "I have a lot of confidence that we'll get the pitcher back that he's capable of being.
"It's about as good news as you can get," Showalter added. "A lot of times, when a guy gets an injection -- this is the first injection he's ever had from what he told me -- there's a pretty good response to that, so we'll see. Just about all of the soreness from the shot has gone away."
This is the first time that Gallardo has been on the DL for an arm-related injury. He pitched with a torn ACL for two innings in April of 2008 before missing most of that season recovering from knee surgery, but since then he's never missed more than 15 days on the DL.
"Throughout my career I've gone out there and pitched with a sprained ankle or lower body-type things that I can handle," Gallardo said. "When you're dealing with your arm and your shoulder, you've just got to be right in that aspect. I'm a pitcher. You've got to be out there 100 percent and be able to command the ball and just pitch instead of going out there and not knowing what your ball is going to do. … I felt like I wasn't able to compete [on Friday]. I had nothing behind the ball. It was one of those things. I made the smart choice coming out and get it taken care of."
Gallardo, who left his last start on Friday in Kansas City after just two innings, owns a 7.00 ERA in four starts over 20 innings. His average fastball velocity this season is 87.2 mph, down 3 mph from last year, even though he reached the 90-mph mark several times two starts ago in Texas. But Gallardo said he didn't think the injury impacted his performance before Friday's outing.
"You look at the start I had in Texas, it's the best that I felt," Gallardo said. "Seventh inning, velocity was starting to come up. It was obviously a positive sign, and then, this happens. … Those first three starts had nothing to do with it. Look at the results I had. I was able to throw the ball wherever I wanted to. Velocity is velocity. If it's going to come back, it's going to come back. If it's not, it's not. It's one of those things that I'm going to learn how to pitch without it. Over the last two, three years of my career, I'm not worried about it. The number one thing is getting back and getting healthy and getting back out there."