Baltimore Orioles

Just as Orioles begin to get healthy, injury bug appears to be biting again

TORONTO — The hard clacking sound of spikes on concrete is often heard when players make the walk from Rogers Centre's visiting clubhouse to the dugout for batting practice, roughly a 30-step stretch that proved to be a treacherous one for Orioles catcher Welington Castillo on Thursday night.

It wasn't the most freak injury Castillo has suffered this year, but he was scratched from the Orioles' starting lineup minutes before the team's series finale against the Toronto Blue Jays after spraining his left knee falling on a set of steps just outside the visiting clubhouse on his way to the bullpen to warm up starting pitcher Ubaldo Jiménez.


Castillo will get additional tests performed Friday after the team returns to Baltimore and see team orthopedist Dr. Michael Jacobs, but Orioles manager Buck Showalter is optimistic the injury isn't serious.

"I'm going to stay positive on this," Showalter said after the Orioles' 2-0 series-clinching win in Toronto. "He was going near those stairs and started to go down and quite frankly guys slip on them all the time. It's just never that type of [result]. He just got really off balance and his feet went out from underneath him. … Wear a pair of spikes and walk around here. .... I'm sure it's that way in Baltimore, too, somewhere. I just wish we'd spend more time [with it]."


Often this season, Showalter has pondered how many times he had his full group of regulars healthy during a roller-coaster first few months, and those instances haven't been many.

Injuries are an obstacle every team must overcome, but the Orioles already have six players on the disabled list. And because of potentially long-term injuries to infield cornerstones such as first baseman Chris Davis and shortstop J.J. Hardy, the Orioles likely won't resemble their regular selves until after next month's All-Star break.

Even as the team plans to welcome back closer Zach Britton — who has been limited to eight appearances this season and has been on the DL since the first week of May — next week, Castillo's tumble was one in a new series of injuries.

Rookie right-handed reliever Stefan Crichton will also see Jacobs in Baltimore on Friday and is scheduled for an MRI after complaining of discomfort in his throwing shoulder during Wednesday's game. Crichton was supposed to be the team's available long reliever Thursday in case Jiménez exited early. But Jiménez gave the Orioles eight scoreless innings in perhaps his best performance as an Oriole.

The 25-year-old Crichton, who has been on the Triple-A Norfolk shuttle, last pitched Sunday at the Tampa Bay Rays, throwing 23 pitches in two-thirds of an inning. Crichton owns an 8.03 ERA over 121/3 major league relief innings, providing more than one inning of work in six of his eight outings.

Castillo said his injury could have been worse had Jiménez not been there to help him from falling down the stairs. The catcher initially wanted to try to play Thursday, but was glad he gave it rest.

"I'm going to stay positive," Castillo said. "I know it's not a big deal. I already iced it a couple times today. It was smart giving it [time] today just in case something happened out there. But I was available to play if something happened to [Caleb] Joseph."

The Orioles will know more about the injury Friday, but Castillo said he believes he will be able to return to the starting lineup when the Orioles open their three-game home series against the Tampa Bay Rays.


"They did a lot of tests today on my knee," Castillo said. "The only one that bothered me a little bit was going in, like kneeling in. That's the only thing that bothered me. Hopefully tomorrow I feel better and I can play and I can be back in the lineup tomorrow."

Joseph, who had two hits and drove in one of the team's two runs Thursday, said he found out he was starting about 20 minutes before first pitch.

Castillo has already missed more than three weeks this season with two stints on the DL.

Neither were related. He missed 10 days after suffering a testicular injury when a deflected pitch hit him in the groin area and missed two weeks with shoulder tendinitis in May. Showalter also recently gave him a day off for a sore shoulder after he was hit by a foul tip.

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"Yeah, it's something that you can control, just slipping down the stairs," Castillo said. "But at the same time, it's frustrating, too, because there've been couple guys and myself who have been on the DL at times. I hate being on the DL. I want to be out there doing my best and supporting my teammates to win some games."

Castillo has been one of the Orioles' bright spots, hitting .277/.309/.451 with eight homers and 25 RBIs in 44 games during his first season replacing longtime Orioles starter Matt Wieters.


Changes like the 11th-hour scratch of Castillo have made it a challenge for Showalter, who went into Thursday's game with one healthy catcher. Utility infielder Paul Janish is the team's emergency catcher.

Castillo's knee aside, the series of injuries could force the Orioles to be even more inventive, especially in the infield. Before replacing Castillo on Thursday, Joseph was taking grounders at third base during batting practice for the second straight day and Showalter said there was a time recently when the backup catcher was close to entering the game as an emergency infielder.

Since Hardy's injury, the Orioles have managed to fill his spot with utility men Janish and Ruben Tejada. But Tejada started Thursday after Janish had started at shortstop the previous four games and had seemingly assumed the regular role filling in for Hardy.