Orioles right-hander Yovani Gallardo had a successful first bullpen session on his road back from right shoulder tendinitis, and the schedule for his return might be accelerated because of it, manager Buck Showalter said Sunday.
The initial plan for Gallardo called for another bullpen Tuesday before a simulated game some time in Cleveland this weekend, but Showalter said he could skip that step and instaed throw a simulated game Thursday in Houston.
“He may or may not,” Showalter said. “We’ll see how he feels. Thursday or Friday. We’ll see how it goes. It could be quicker. It could be later. We’ll see how it goes when they get in. I’m not getting painted into a corner yet.”
A decision will likely come Monday, giving Gallardo's body a day to respond to the work.
Gallardo left his last start April 22 in Kansas City while experiencing shoulder discomfort. Since then, he has been on a shoulder strengthening program under the supervision of head athletic trainer Richie Bancells.
“He looked good, the ball’s coming out good,” Showalter said. “I know we want him as soon a possible. I think he’s going to pitch well for us for the rest of the year and next year."
In four starts this season, Gallardo has allowed 14 runs on 23 hits in 18 innings, with nine strikeouts and seven walks.
Familiar approach: There might be something to the idea that spending the last several years catching Orioles sidearm reliever Darren O’Day gave catcher Matt Wieters some kind of advantage off Angels closer Joe Smith in the ninth inning Saturday.
Wieters got a fastball that caught too much of the plate and hit it 394 feet to left-center field to give the Orioles a 3-1 win. O’Day said he remembered a similar approach from Wieters when O’Day was with Texas around 2011.
O’Day said the left-handed hitting Wieters has a different approach against side-arm pitchers in that he tries to flick outside pitches to left field. When the ball is down, that’s a tougher task, but Wieters got one that was meant to be inside and caught too much of the plate Saturday. He knew what to do with it.
“Some guys, you are trying to hit the ball the other way and get the ball up,” Wieters said. “I think he was trying to come in a little bit and one leaked out over the middle and I was able to hit the barrel with it.”
Buck on a slumping Machado: After popping out for the first out of that eventful ninth inning Saturday, shortstop Manny Machado threw his bat down in disgust before making a perfunctory jog to first base. It’s becoming a familiar sight in the last week or so — Machado’s frustration at his recent slump boiling over — but Showalter said Machado is outwardly positive in the face of it.
“A lot of it come from the teammates and the coaches," Showalter said. "We’re all going to be worse than we really are some days and we’re going to be better than we really are some days. But you learn from it. The game’s very humbling, but he knows that. You go through some of the physical things that Manny has gone through, I think he never takes anything for granted.”
Machado, the American League Player of the Month in April, has four hits in his last 32 at-bats, with two of those being home runs. His batting average has dropped from .360 to .315 in that span.