SARASOTA, FLA. — Outfielder Craig Gentry was slated to leave the Orioles spring training facility in Sarasota on Monday to begin a minor league rehab assignment with Double-A Bowie.
Gentry — who has been on the disabled list with a rib fracture for five weeks — was initially scheduled to begin his rehab assignment last week, but was held back an extra few days.
“You never really want to be injured to be honest with you. It’s always tough,” Gentry said. “And then when you’re not with the team and just trying to get healthy, it can get pretty lonely and pretty difficult, but it’s a part of the game. Injuries happen. I’ve got to go with it and stay positive and go from there.
“I think the thing I’m concerned the most about is diving or a collision, anything like that happening,” Gentry said. “Obviously there will be a risk with a hit by pitch, but I think that goes with anything.”
Gentry suffered the injury when he was hit by a pitch June 22. He tried to play through the injury a few more days, but ultimately the lingering pain prompted a CT scan that revealed a rib fracture.
“When I got hit, I remember telling guys in the dugout, I’ve been hit a lot but I’ve never felt that,” Gentry said. “I’ve never been hit like that. I couldn’t breathe. Every movement was killing me and that night I could hardly sleep, I couldn’t get comfortable. Laughing or coughing or anything like that was excruciating. I played on it a couple days and just felt awful. It felt terrible. I knew something wasn’t right. Just normal things like breathing bothered me.”
Wilkerson getting into games this week
Utility infielder Steve Wilkerson, who has been on the disabled list since July 3 with a left oblique strain, said he is expecting to get back into games this week.
Wilkerson will likely begin with a few games in the Gulf Coast League, likely starting Wednesday, before joining a minor league affiliate to begin his rehab assignment.
“Last thing to come along was swinging left-handed because that’s how I hurt it,” the switch-hitting Wilkerson said. “And everything else has been feeling great and now that that’s catching up to speed, I feel pretty confident I’m ready to go.”
Wilkerson, who was called up from Triple-A Norfolk on June 27 and played just seven games before getting hurt, said he was just beginning to feel comfortable at the plate when he was injured. In his last game July 1, Wilkerson recorded his first major-league multihit game and hit his first double.
“Very difficult,” Wilkerson said. “The last game I was up in Baltimore, I really started to feel comfortable and confident and started to get that feeling that I could do this. So to get hit with an injury like that, I hadn’t missed a game [from injury] in a while. For that to happen at that time was just another test of patience and perseverance, so it’s been difficult, but I’m pretty excited to get back. It’s been an emotional, physical roller coaster ride, no doubt.”
The beginning of Wilkerson’s season was postponed following a 50-game suspension for testing positive for amphetamine in the offseason, a major setback since he was slated to compete for a major league utility roster spot during spring training.
Knight to make pro debut Friday
Orioles third-round draft pick Blaine Knight will make his first professional outing Friday for short-season Class-A Aberdeen.
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Knight, a right-handed pitcher who completed his junior season at the University of Arkansas this summer, took three weeks off after signing July 6, the final day for this year’s draft picks to sign, after a college season that ended in the College World Series final in late June.
After returning from his break, Knight has been working out in Sarasota.
“Just getting back into it and building up, because it was no sense in me trying to jump right back into the pool after me taking a break,” Knight said. “It was just a matter of getting built back up, throwing some pens, getting my arm going again.”
“It’s been kind of boring actually,” Knight said. “I’m not used to being on the field and not doing anything. It’s been good to take a break. I needed it. But it’s been slow.”
Knight will now pitch every Friday to keep him on the same schedule he had during the college season, and 112 1/3 innings this season at Arkansas, he will likely build up from his one-inning outing Friday gradually up to potentially four innings by his fourth and final start. After that, he will consider whether to pitch in instructional league.
“I don’t know yet,” said Knight, who went 14-0 with a 2.80 ERA in 19 starts with the Razorbacks. “I’m still trying to throw my first pro inning. Ask me in a couple weeks after I get my first innings under my belt.”