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Orioles still discussing Yovani Gallardo's physical exam results

Sports columnist Peter Schmuck talks about the Orioles agreeing to a three-year deal with outfielder Dexter Fowler. (Kevin Richardson/Baltimore Sun video)

SARASOTA, FLA. — The Orioles have received the results of the diagnostic tests on right-hander Yovani Gallardo's right shoulder and were still evaluating them late Tuesday night.

So the Orioles' pending three-year, $35 million deal with Gallardo appears to still be in limbo.

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The sense that I've gotten is that the Orioles are not only doing their due diligence by ordering a second round of tests, but are being super cautious because of the draft-pick compensation tied to Gallardo. If the Orioles did not have to give up a draft pick to sign him, it might not be a major issue.

But the Orioles wrestled with whether they should pursue the remaining qualifying-offer free agents and decided that signing Gallardo would be worth it. Going into his physical, the Orioles were impressed with his medical records and didn't foresee any physical issues.

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I've written this many, many times, but we all know how meticulous the Orioles are with their physical exams. This is well known.

Two years ago, the Orioles nixed their two-year, $15 million agreement with right-hander Grant Balfour when they were concerned about whether his shoulder would hold up over the two years of the deal.

That situation was a little different. Balfour was about to turn 36 and Balfour had shoulder and elbow surgeries that sidelined him for two years.

Balfour went on to sign with the Tampa Bay Rays and he struggled. He posted a 4.91 ERA his first season and lasted just six appearances in his second year. He was released twice by the Rays in the first two months of the season.

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This situation feels a little different. Gallardo, who turns 30 on Feb. 27, has no history of trouble with his shoulder. The ACL surgery Gallardo had in 2008 – the injury cost him most of the season – is his only significant injury. He has never missed time with any arm issues.

It is commonplace to find some wear and tear on any pitcher's arm. In fact, it's rare to see a completely clean MRI on a pitcher's shoulder, because there is a natural breakdown there over time.

But again, if the Orioles were hesitant to forfeit a draft pick initially, it's understandable that they would get jittery about a perceived arm issue.

If the Orioles nix the deal, they could try to negotiate again with Gallardo's reps for a cheaper deal, but there's no guarantee that Gallardo's camp would go for that. There's an inherent risk there, and the Orioles – at that point – would have to be content with an internal battle for the No. 5 rotation spot.

The remaining starting pitcher free-agent market is underwhelming and full of aging veterans who would likely be challenged by the Orioles' physicals even more than Gallardo.

Rain in Wednesday's forecast

The forecast is calling for rain Wednesday, so the Orioles first full-squad workout could be forced indoors.

While some activities would take place outside weather permitting, the team is already scheduled to do some of its work in the indoor batting cages. Orioles manager Buck Showalter said pitchers are scheduled to throw their bullpen sessions in the cages and hitters are tracking pitches.

While tracking pitches really benefits the pitchers more because it's the first time they get to see a hitter in the batter's box, it also benefits hitters as well.

"The hitters do get something out of it, because I don't want them to go right from coaches' BP to cold-turkey games," Showalter said.

Choi's take on Kim

Because former major league first baseman Hee Seop Choi – a South Korean who just retired from playing after finishing up his career in the Korean Baseball Organization – was at Orioles camp on Tuesday, Showalter used the opportunity to ask Choi to give his take on new Orioles outfielder Hyun Soo Kim.

"It's funny," Showalter said. "Choi said one of the best things he does is play defense. That's one of the biggest curiosities I have this year. All of the different people have weighed in, but who's right? Because there's a real fluctuation on that."

Choi was in camp Tuesday because he will be helping coach in minor league camp as he transitions from player to coach in the KBO. The Orioles did the same thing last year with two new coaches from the KBO.

eencina@baltsun.com
twitter.com/EddieInTheYard

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