Steve Pearce still hopes that he can return this season from a nagging arm injury (flexor mass strain) that has hindered his ability to throw for most of the season, but the Orioles infielder-outfielder realizes he has several obstacles to overcome before he can contribute to the team's playoff push again.
Pearce has received two injections over the past month -- including a platelet-rich plasma injection Wednesday that will shut him down from all baseball activities for about 10 days – to reduce inflammation and help him get through this season. But now the pain in his elbow is affecting not only his ability to throw but also to swing.
"It's frustrating, especially knowing where we're at in the season," Pearce said. "We're so close to the playoffs and just the timing of it, it's not really ideal. It's very unfortunate."
When the Orioles reacquired Pearce at the nonwaiver trade deadline, he had already been dealing with pain in his throwing arm, so he was mostly limited to playing first base and designated hitter. Even throws from second base were a challenge, and he didn't play there after May 31. He did not play the outfield all season with the Tampa Bay Rays.
But the Orioles' primary need for Pearce was in the corner outfield spots, and while the club attempted to manage his arm so it wouldn't get worse, it did. He aggravated the injury making a throw home on Aug. 7 and received a cortisone shot that day. He missed the next five games and did not return to the outfield for nearly two weeks.
Then on Monday night in Boston, Pearce's arm bit again while making a relay throw from left field, prompting further examination from New York Mets medical director Dr. David Altchek, which was followed by a PRP injection and his inevitable shutdown.
Pearce said he has struggled holding back on throws from the outfield, especially as opposing base runners have tested his arm. But now, Pearce said he feels pain when swinging a bat, specifically with sudden stops like on check swings, and he can't go to the plate without the ability to hold his bat back.
Pearce said he hasn't considered yet whether he will need offseason surgery – flexor mass strains are sometimes are precursors to elbow reconstruction surgery – but his focus is on returning this season.
"At this point, we're just trying to get this thing out of control and trying to finish out the season," Pearce said. "I hope [I can], but we have to take care about what's going on right now."