Hill Put On Dl, Says He Has A Shoulder Tear

Pitcher: Injury Is To Labrum

Orioles Say They Didn't Know

July 30, 2009|By Dan Connolly | Dan Connolly,dan.connolly@baltsun.com

Left-hander Rich Hill said he has been pitching with a torn labrum in his shoulder all year, but the Orioles said they weren't aware that he was dealing with anything that could hamper his ability to perform.

Hill, who was placed on the 15-day disabled list Wednesday to make room for newly promoted starter Chris Tillman, said he will have an arthrogram today to determine the severity of the injury and whether surgery will be needed.

"I've been pitching with a torn labrum pretty much all season, so it's kind of something that I think it's either gotten worse or it's still the same," said Hill, who was 3-3 with a 7.80 ERA in 14 games, including 13 starts. "I'm not looking for an out or an excuse, but what it is is going out there and kind of selfishly, on my part, pitching with an injury. And pitching with a torn labrum is something that isn't very easy to do."

Hill said the tear was "discovered as of the first of the year" while he was with the Chicago Cubs, who dealt him to the Orioles on Feb. 2 for cash. He said he had an arthrogram in Chicago over the winter that revealed a partial tear and tendinitis.

After his last start Monday, in which he lasted just 2 1/3 innings and appeared to be heading toward his release, Hill told reporters he had been battling tendinitis. On Wednesday, he said he believed the discomfort might have been because of the tear.

"It's kind of something that has been generating over time," Hill said. "Just because of the amount of innings and the amount of, over time, pitches and everything that's been built up. ... It's just something that happens."

Orioles manager Dave Trembley said he hadn't heard about the labrum tear previously. Club president Andy MacPhail said Hill underwent a thorough physical in spring training and nothing unusual was found. The club was more concerned about a back issue that dogged Hill in 2008 and an elbow injury that limited him this spring.

"Had we thought for a minute there were any physical issues [with the shoulder], he wouldn't have pitched, and he would have told us he shouldn't pitch," MacPhail said. "But our medical staff is pretty careful about not using guys who don't think they can go."

MacPhail said the club would compare the results of the arthrogram with other tests Hill, 29, has had in the past. Shoulder irregularities, including partial labrum tears, are not unusual for pitchers, MacPhail said.

"This is a condition that other pitchers have pitched with. They just have to pitch to their tolerance. If it bothers them, they shouldn't pitch, but some guys have this and it doesn't bother them," MacPhail said. "If you went in and MRI'd a lot of shoulders, there's at least something in about 60 percent of these guys' shoulders that there could be a concern about. That's just the nature of our business."

MacPhail said the Orioles paid a nominal fee - and gave up no personnel - in acquiring Hill. That compensation will not change because of Hill's shoulder problem, MacPhail said.

The remainder of Hill's season is in jeopardy, but the pitcher said he won't know until he hears the test results.

Trade winds slowing

The Orioles might have lost a potential trading partner Wednesday when the Philadelphia Phillies sent four prospects to the Cleveland Indians for pitcher Cliff Lee and outfielder Ben Francisco.

The Phillies dealt minor league shortstop Jason Donald and pitcher Carlos Carrasco, both of whom were targeted by the Orioles in any potential trade for closer George Sherrill. If they trade Sherrill before Friday's nonwaiver deadline, the Orioles want a corner infielder or shortstop - and the Phillies' farm system is now thin in those areas.

Eight to 10 teams, with varying interest, have contacted the Orioles about Sherrill, a baseball source said. The Los Angeles Dodgers and Los Angeles Angels are considered the mostly likely landing spots for Sherrill.

The Orioles are receiving little, if any, interest in most of their other available players. The Milwaukee Brewers and Colorado Rockies apparently are keeping tabs on reliever Mark Hendrickson, and the Chicago Cubs have some interest in outfielder-designated hitter Luke Scott.

Teams scouting Wednesday's game between the Orioles and Royals included the Dodgers, the St. Louis Cardinals, the Cubs, the Brewers and the Pittsburgh Pirates.

Zaun gets call

With Tillman making his major league debut Wednesday, Trembley decided to start veteran catcher Gregg Zaun instead of rookie Matt Wieters, who caught Tillman in the minors.

Wieters caught all 11 innings of Tuesday's extra-innings loss, which played into the decision. But Trembley said he had basically made the call before Tuesday night.

"Zaun has the experience, so Zaun was going to catch [Wednesday]," Trembley said. "This sets it up a little better for me for the weekend to get Wieters in there with the other guys in the rotation."

Around the horn

Right-hander Alfredo Simon (right elbow) was transferred to the 60-day disabled list to make room for Tillman on the 40-man roster. ... Wednesday's first pitch was delayed 41 minutes because of rain.

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