Infielder Tim Beckham was back in the Orioles clubhouse Friday, little more than a day after he underwent core muscle surgery on both sides of his abdomen. He was walking gingerly, but said he felt like a weight had been lifted off his shoulders.
He has been dealing with a chronic groin problem on his right side for the past four years and was showing signs of a similar damage on the left side, so the knowledge that doctors have fixed both problems put a smile on his face as he met with reporters Friday afternoon.
"Something had to be done, man," Beckham said. "I've come to find out I've been playing on my right one for four years not knowing there was a slight tear. My left one started acting up in spring training. We did the rehab that was necessary, but I made a play the other night and it just triggered it again. I came to find out on the MRI I had a 3-centimeter tear in the left one, too."
Beckham didn't want to undergo surgery, but past attempts to rehabilitate the soreness had worked only temporarily. He was advised by surgeon Dr. William Meyers that he would be headed for a more serious problem if he didn't take a more aggressive approach.
"For sure, if I wouldn't have, Dr. Meyers was pretty sure I will tear my right one off the bone," Beckham said. "I want to stay positive and think of it as a blessing in disguise. When I come back, I'll be healthy and ready to help the Orioles win some ballgames."
The Orioles haven't been winning lately, which is another reason Beckham said he felt bad having to shut down for at least six weeks.
"It sucks right now the timing of it," he said. "I want to be here and help my team win ballgames and play better baseball than I was playing, but everything happens for a reason. I'm happy to get it taken care of now, and come back and play at least 90 percent instead of playing 80 percent. It'll be good."
Though it's obvious the injury was affecting Beckham's play, he said he he did not want to use it as an excuse for his early-season struggles at the plate.
"I'm not going to use this as an excuse for my performance on the field, man," Beckham said. "I choose to spike up and I choose to play through injuries and I'm not going to make any excuses. I was just playing bad baseball. Not really bad baseball all around, but I could be doing a lot more at the plate. It's a tough pill to swallow knowing I wasn't going to be able to keep playing through this after the way it felt the other night."
Manager Buck Showalter said he's pretty sure that the injury has contributed to Beckham's inconsistent performance.
"Who knows how much it may have been bothering him through the years?" Showalter said. "You could say it wasn't bothering him in August last year and it probably wasn't. I think he had a lot of adrenaline coming over here in the trade and the first time he's [playing every day]. So it's one less thing he's got to worry about. He may find that there were some things he was doing that he didn't even know he was doing, kind of covering for it. That's kind of what I hope."
Beckham said he expects to be playing in rehab games within six weeks, but didn't want to put a firm timetable on his return.
"I'll just go about my business every day and give my rehab 100 percent and see where we end up," Beckham said. "I've been through worse. I've been through ACL surgery and that's a lot longer. Hopefully, this will not be as taxing on me."
Schoop timetable becoming clearer
The Orioles have laid out a timetable for second baseman Jonathan Schoop's return from his oblique injury, but remain wary of letting him get too far ahead of himself.
Schoop is set to go to extended spring training and – if all continues to go well – play in a camp game Wednesday. He would then come back to Double-A Bowie to play a couple of minor league games before being activated when the Orioles get back from their West Coast trip, which runs from May 1-6.
"Jon came in yesterday and wanted to be activated tonight," Showalter said, "and actually I think we're going as fast as you can go with the history of these things. … When you're taking ground balls and you don't feel it and you're taking some dry swings and some tee work and you don't feel it, it's let's go. I can't tell you how many times – unfortunately – that everything is fine and then the second game they play, there it goes again and then it's two months.
"The need is to get a Jon Schoop back. It's not a reflection on who's here now. Yeah, I think we're going as close to fast as we can be. The time he did it, if you told me that he had the potential to be a player for us on [May 8], we all would have signed up for that in blood."
Peterson doing little things
Jace Peterson immediately became the Orioles' starting second baseman after being claimed off waivers from the New York Yankees earlier this week. And in his first few games, he's already done some little things to show he can contribute even when the Orioles infield gets healthy.
In the third inning of Thursday's game against Tampa Bay, with runners at first and second and two outs, the Rays shifted on Chris Davis, leaving third base unoccupied. With a 3-2 count on Davis, Peterson – who was on second — shuffled a few steps toward third, then broke for the base, eventually using a head-first slide to win a race to third with Rays starter Chris Archer.
"It was kind of just an instinct play," Peterson said. "Once third was vacated, I just wanted to go get it and it worked out for us."
Showalter credited Peterson for taking off on his own.
"That's a player play," Showalter said. "We make them aware that sometimes you have to be careful with the inside move. Who is he going to throw it to? In fact, it was a little closer than it should have been."
Peterson also set the tone early after being placed in the No. 2 spot in the batting order. He struck out in his first at-bat, but worked Archer's pitch count up with a 10-pitch at-bat that included seven foul balls.
"My resume's always been one where I can control the strike zone," Peterson said. "I don't really know if it's a matter of being in the two hole or not for me. I just try to compete every at-bat and do what I'm called upon."
Showalter said the team is working on some defensive techniques that could help Peterson stay once Schoop returns, but said he's shown he can offer some plate discipline and heady hustle on the bases the club could use.
"It's something we're in need of," Showalter said. "He's shown a propensity for that. … He's a baseball player. Tough, competes, puts some good at-bats together. We're working on some things defensively that he's going to get better at. He's got a lot of 'want to,' very approachable."
Around the horn
Outfielder Trey Mancini played with a bulky wrap on his right knee, which he hit against the left-field wall again pursuing a fly ball in foul ground, prompting some bleeding from the stitches he already had in the knee. Mancini is expected to get the stitches out Saturday. … Showalter was pleased with right-hander Mike Wright Jr.'s relief performance Thursday, when he retired all four batters he faced coming off an outing in which he allowed five runs over 3 1/3 innings in Detroit on April 19. "I thought that was important for him," Showalter said. … Outfielder Colby Rasmus, who hasn't played since April 6, was scheduled to resume hitting Friday as he recovers from a hip injury.