On the day infielder Tim Beckham officially landed on the 10-day disabled list for a left groin strain, the Orioles also found out he will likely need core surgery that is expected to sideline him for six to seven weeks.
Beckham, who left Monday night’s game after running the bases gingerly following an eighth-inning single, visited specialist Dr. William Meyers in Philadelphia on Wednesday, and while manager Buck Showalter said no official decision on having surgery has been made, all signs point to the procedure, possibly as early as Thursday.
“What we're dealing with now is, ‘Here's where it is, here's what one of the best [specialists] in the world is telling us,’ and obviously, it's Tim's decision about where he wants to go,” Showalter said. “I know initially he really wanted to see if he could get back and get through it. I think after talking to the doctor and showing the MRI and the looks at it, I think I've got a pretty good feeling on which way he's going to perceive it. That's going to be his decision.”
With Beckham potentially missing an extended amount of time, the Orioles are left without two starting infielders. Starting second baseman Jonathan Schoop has resumed baseball activities in his recovery from an oblique strain, but there’s no clear timetable for his return.
Showalter wouldn’t say Beckham’s procedure would be sports hernia surgery, but likened it to surgery Meyers performed on right fielder Nick Markakis before the 2012 season. In that procedure, Markakis had his abductor muscle and his rectus abdominis repaired. He had the procedure in early January, returned to play in eight Grapefruit League games and was ready for Opening Day. Orioles pitching prospect Hunter Harvey had sports hernia surgery in 2016, an injury that cost him about three months.
“I don't know exactly,” Showalter said. “Remember the one that Nick had? Very similar, I think, but everyone's different. [Meyers] is considered probably the leading expert on this injury. People come from all over the country and the world to see him. We've had a lot of good experiences with him and his evaluations and where things end up, so I think Tim and his representation feel real confident with what he's saying and not saying. With those things, you've got an opportunity to rehab them and be back and dealing with the same thing shortly thereafter, or you can do something surgically and get it behind you. I think that's what they're considering right now.”
Beckham initially tweaked his groin in the Orioles’ fourth-to-last spring training game. When the team flew north, he remained in Florida so he could test the injury in a minor league camp game, and he was in the Opening Day starting lineup a week later. Showalter wondered out loud Wednesday whether the initial injury wasn’t fully healed, indicating that’s one reason Beckham might choose surgery, to ensure the injury is completely resolved.
“That's another thing about if you rehab it and he's back in a couple of weeks, and three days into it, he starts feeling it again?” Showalter said. “I know Beck and his competitive juices. He's not going to be real open about talking about it, and it makes me wonder how much this may have been an issue for him, even from the spring. You like that about him, but you also know that you've got to keep that in mind.”
Whether the injury played any role in Beckham’s slow start — he is hitting just .179/.247/.262 with one homer and four RBIs in 23 games — is unclear, but the 28-year-old has struggled to recapture the form he showed when he arrived in Baltimore in August after the Orioles’ nonwaiver-deadline deal with the Tampa Bay Rays. In his first month with the team, Beckham had 50 hits — including 18 extra-base hits (10 doubles, two triples and six homers) in 29 August games, driving in 19 runs and posting a 1.062 OPS.
Beckham, who became the starting shortstop after the Orioles acquired him last year, embraced a switch to third base this spring to accommodate Manny Machado’s move to shortstop. He adjusted well to the move during spring training, and hit four homers in 19 Grapefruit League games, but during the regular season, he made three errors in 66 total chances at third base. When Schoop went down with an oblique strain, Beckham shifted to second base.
“He was another guy that we knew down the road that he would get going,” Showalter said. “We saw what we saw in August — that he was as good a hitter as there was in the league, in baseball. That's there. That potential is there. It makes you wonder sometimes just how much this might have been bothering him. ... But it it what it is. Nobody cares. Nobody feels sorry for you, that's for sure. But on the flip side, there's some great opportunities being created for some of these guys that need to take advantage of it. It's a great opportunity for some guys out there who always say, 'Boy, if I ever got the chance.' Well, here it is.”
An immediate opportunity will now be created for infielder Jace Peterson, who was added to the 25-man roster Wednesday after the team claimed him off waivers from the New York Yankees the previous day. Peterson was immediately placed in the starting lineup Wednesday night, starting at second base and batting ninth against the Rays. Peterson, 27, was 3-for-10 in limited playing time with the Yankees this season, but now figures to see the majority of the time at second base with Danny Valencia assuming third base duties. The Orioles also have infielder Luis Sardiñas, who is on the 25-man roster, and Engelb Vielma, who is with Triple-A Norfolk, on the organizational 40-man roster.