Orioles fifth-starter candidate Gabriel Ynoa underwent an MRI to determine the source of his lower leg soreness and has been scratched from his scheduled Grapefruit League start Saturday against the Pittsburgh Pirates.
Nonroster left-hander Jayson Aquino will take his place.
The club reported that the MRI showed a “stress reaction,” but no fracture. Manager Buck Showalter had previously described the problem as shin splints.
“It's not a stress fracture, just some inflammation,” Showalter said before Friday’s game against the Toronto Blue Jays. “Luckily, they took the MRI and caught it. It could have turned into a stress fracture, but that's probably going to be two weeks minimum for Ynoa.”
Ynoa, 24, is battling for a major league job and is out of options, so he has to make the 25-man Opening Day roster or be exposed to waivers. He has not pitched particularly well so far, allowing seven runs in four innings this spring. But if the problem persists, he could start the season on the disabled list.
While Showalter said it “probably” will take him out of consideration for making the roster, it’s unclear whether the injury will keep him out long enough for a DL trip in the regular season.
“If you look at two weeks, there's a chance he's back pitching [here],” Showalter said. “Talking to the doctors and the trainers today, they actually said two to four [weeks], but I'm thinking, they think it'll manage in two. But hopefully in two weeks, he's on a mound pitching, if not to start. He's going to be able to do some throwing through it. He's going to let it quiet down, but if he comes back too quick, it could turn into a problem.”
Tillman workout goes well
Chris Tillman said his three-inning simulated game on Thursday went “pretty well” and he expects to pitch at least once more in a sim situation before taking the mound in a Grapefruit League game.
“I’ve got some work to do out of the stretch, but other than that, for the most part, everything was good,’’ Tillman said. “I felt like all my pitches were there. It was my first day throwing my cutter/slider. I wasn’t expecting that much out of that pitch but I got to 60 [pitches]. The goal was 45 but I got to 60 and that was good.”
Tillman is being kept on the back fields by design to keep him from pitching against the club’s American League East rivals.
It’s not the first time he has pitched in sim games and “B” games for that reason, so he said he’s not concerned about it affecting his preparation.
“It all depends on the guy,’’ he said. “You can get away from yourself in a game if you really focus on doing a certain thing. I think it’s good. I think sim games are real good.
“I remember throwing in a lot of sim games two years ago and even prior to that, to tell the truth. Maybe not this many, but I definitely did have some ‘A’ games and I will have some — two or three of them. I’m not worried. I’ve just got to get a few. As long as the hitters are giving me a read and telling me what they see.”
Britton on track
Injured closer Zach Britton delivered his weekly rehabilitation update Friday and said he’s a little bit ahead of schedule in his recovery from Achilles surgery, not that it matters much with him on the 60-day DL.
“I have less than a week now until the 12 weeks [the first rehab phase], then after that we're really cleared to start doing a lot more stuff,’’ he said. “But up until next Thursday, we're still just trying to stay with what we've been doing that's been working.”
On Thursday, Britton gets out of the boot he must wear when he plays catch, so he’ll be able to do more to get his arm in shape. He’s already running on an underwater treadmill.
“I can't come back any sooner than the 28th or 29th of May, so hopefully, that's when I'm ready to go,’’ he said. “Hopefully, I'm ready to go sooner than that and I can get some more innings in in a rehab game somewhere, whether it's a simulated game with our bench guys or at a minor league affiliate. There's really no reason, at this point, to try to get ahead of ourselves. Come May, we can start pushing the envelope a little bit if everything is going well.”
Around the horn
First baseman Chris Davis (elbow) and designated hitter Mark Trumbo (quad) were both improving Friday, Showalter said. Showalter said rookie outfielder Austin Hays (shoulder), who returned as the designated hitter Tuesday after almost a week out, could be back in games by Sunday. He was left in Sarasota for Friday’s game to get further treatment. “I'm hoping he's back,” Showalter said. “I asked [head athletic trainer Brian Ebel] about him in the split squad [games Sunday]; he said [it’s] close, but he didn't think so. But it could change. A lot depends on how today and tomorrow goes. I don't want this thing turning into something that's going to hamper his season. I expect him to be playing, if not Sunday, soon after that.” … The Orioles reassigned right-handers Tim Melville and Asher Wojciechowski to minor league camp Friday, bringing them to 49 players in major league camp.