With the Orioles a month away from their nightmare season ending, many of the team’s comments about Mark Trumbo’s decision to have arthroscopic knee surgery late next week has been centered around getting the veteran outfielder-designated hitter back for next year.
Working off the six-month post-surgery recovery time set out by manager Buck Showalter on Friday, Trumbo should be nearing full health right around time for spring training in the third year of his three-year, $37.5 million contract. And he knows the team he’ll be returning to next spring is going to be taking a completely different tack than the one he signed up to be a part of two offseasons ago, casting his role and responsibilities on that club into question.
“I could probably speculate quite a bit, but my role is to be a baseball player for the Orioles,” Trumbo said. “That is, first and foremost, what my main objective is. But as someone that’s been around a little longer than quite a few of the current players, it’s going to be up to me and a few of the other guys to try and help these guys, give them some insight. There’s not a whole lot of veteran presence on the ballclub, and I think it’s even more crucial that you do have a couple guys who have been through quite a few more seasons than a lot of these guys that might be in their first.
“So, I think all the things I’ve tried to do — contribute with the bat, and if the knee responds the way I’m hoping, I’ll be able to play some outfield and first whenever that’s needed, and bring some ability to relate to some guys who are seeing a lot of pitchers for the first time in a lot of situations where I can help. I think that’s what my role is.”
Both Trumbo and the Orioles have a lot riding on the surgery, which is something of a last resort after he tried to play through knee soreness for months. It first cropped up in late May on a slide into second base, and though Trumbo missed a few games then, it’s been mostly a regular schedule for him since his return in early May from a quadriceps strain.
He hit .261/.313/.452 with 17 home runs in 90 games, but never really shook the soreness. After going on the disabled list and seeing multiple doctors, the ultimate diagnosis was described to him as a “cartilage defect,” Trumbo said.
“It’s basically an area of the cartilage, I’m not sure quite how it happened,” he said. “But the cartilage basically is missing in an area, and I’m trying to make the best choice as to how we’re going to repair it. I have some options that seem to make a lot of sense, so a cartilage defect is the technical term.
“I’ve dealt with this for quite a while now — months on end of trying to go out and perform and all the while, knowing something didn’t feel right. There was hardly any relief. Maybe a spotty day here or there that was a little better than the one before it, but going back to feeling lousy the next day. Even with some of the best doctors available, it’s nice to kind of hear that there is something that is causing this, there’s something that can be fixed and I can be able to contribute next year. I think getting something done now is going to be best for everybody involved.”