Orioles infielder/outfielder Steve Pearce is scheduled to get further examination on a nagging elbow injury that hindered him shortly after he joined the club in a trade early last month, and has now crept up again.
Pearce will see orthopedic surgeon Dr. David W. Altchek, who is the New York Mets medical director, to examine his right arm.
Pearce missed nearly a week after suffering a flexor mass strain on a throw from the outfield on Aug. 7. He aggravated the injury making a throw from left field in the Orioles’ 12-2 loss to the Red Sox on Monday night at Fenway Park.
“He’s got a problem there,” Orioles manager Buck Showalter said. “[Altchek will] take a look at it. I know we’re waiting on [Orioles team physician] Dr. [Michael] Jacobs to get out of surgery so they’ll all put their heads together here and decide what the next course of action is. I think he’s going to see Altchek to get another opinion, kind of an independent opinion. But we’ll see. They’re all going to weigh in on it.”
Pearce received a cortisone injection last month, but went roughly two weeks before he could return to the outfield. He was limited to designated hitter duties and the less stressful throws from first base.
Flexor mass strains are serious injuries, and can be precursors for elbow reconstruction procedures, more commonly known as Tommy John surgery.
Showalter said Pearce’s latest setback is similar, but while the previous injury mainly affected his ability to play the field, Pearce is now struggling to swing a bat.
“He’s having some trouble just opening a drawer,” Showalter said. “It’s the same but I think this one bit him pretty good. He was almost, we had gotten through it as you’ve seen, and we were hoping it would be fine for the rest of the season, but he made that one throw last night that really bit him. I actually thought about taking him out right after the throw but we were close to getting out of the inning and I really didn’t want to do that to him. Of course, the next pitch or two, they hit it down the left-field corner. Usually, he was able to hit with it and that’s different today.”
Pearce said he hopes that a few days of rest will help alleviate the discomfort. Before the Orioles acquired Pearce from the Tampa Bay Rays in exchange for minor league catcher Jonah Heim, Pearce was kept out of the outfield to keep his arm fresh, but the Orioles’ primary need for Pearce has been in the corner outfield position. Since then, Pearce has tried to keep his arm healthy with limited success.
“That’s what I’ve been trying to do,” Pearce said. “When I’m able to use it, it’s good to go. But you know, just a missed throw or a hard check swing just flares it back up. I constantly have to stay careful. … If I have a hard check swing at the plate, it kind of flares up. So it’s just constantly trying to look out for it and it’s hard to play when you’re constantly trying to be careful all the time.”
Pearce has made seven of his last eight starts in the outfield, and has emerged at the team’s top left-field option against left-handed pitching. If he is unable to play the outfield, the team would be limited to play Pearce at DH or first base.
“Yeah if he can’t throw, but we have some places that are kind of tied up in that position too,” Showalter said. “But we’re hoping we get good news and he does come back.”
O’Day will need at least one more outing before return from DL: The Orioles had hoped to see set-up man Darren O’Day return from the disabled list when the team returned home Thursday to open an 11-game homestand, but now O’Day won’t be activated before Sunday.
O’Day completed a successful simulated outing before Tuesday’s game, and Showalter said he will have another simulated session on Friday.
“We want to see how he responds the day after,” Showalter said. “He’s not out of the woods, yet, but he’s very close, we hope. This is as close as we’ve gotten in a while. We’ve gotten a good return on it. I know there’s not a whole lot of games left. Just needs to follow a certain protocol physically to make sure there’s nothing. … We plan on Darren being with us for a while, and we don’t want to do something that’s going to rush back and create another problem that could be averted.”
O’Day – who has pitched just 27 1/3 innings in 30 appearances this season after four straight seasons of 68 or more appearances – landed on the disabled list on Aug. 13 with a right rotator-cuff strain. That followed a right hamstring strain that shelved him for seven weeks.
“It’s been a long time without him,” Showalter said. “…It would be nice to get him back. We’ve been doing [it without him] for quite a while. … Other guys have stepped up and hopefully it will bode well for us, post-Sunday, if we can get Darren back, but I think to me, sheds light on what a good job the other guys have done because it’s one of the better pitchers in the American League out of the bullpen; we haven’t had him.”
Around the horn: The Orioles’ instructional league games in Sarasota – they will play from Monday to Oct. 11 at Ed Smith Stadium – will be free and open to the public. … The Orioles’ 2017 schedule will be released Wednesday afternoon.