Reliever Uehara hurts left hamstring

Leg injury has been recurring problem for right-hander

March 18, 2010|By Peter Schmuck | peter.schmuck@baltsun.com

DUNEDIN, Fla. — The Orioles had hoped it would be easier to keep pitcher Koji Uehara healthy by moving him to the bullpen, but his chronic hamstring problem cropped up again during the fifth inning of Thursday's ugly, 13-3 exhibition loss to the Toronto Blue Jays at Dunedin Stadium.

Uehara was 12 pitches into his sixth exhibition relief appearance when he hobbled off the mound and met the Orioles' trainers near the third base line. He clearly was favoring his left leg, though it first appeared that he might have injured his hip or lower back.

"After I made the last pitch, I felt something in my hamstring," Uehara said through interpreter Jiwon Bang. "The spot itself was different [from his previous left hamstring problem], but it's in the same area."

It was already shaping up as a bad day for the Orioles. Jeremy Guthrie had been hit hard for the second straight start, and -- just a few pitches before Uehara's injury -- backup catcher candidate Craig Tatum had to leave the game after being struck on the left index finger by a foul tip.

"It's unfortunate that you get injuries," manager Dave Trembley said. "You certainly don't want for that to happen."

Uehara didn't have a lot to offer about the injury, other than that his condition would be re-evaluated Friday. He said he is always concerned when he has a physical setback but refused to characterize himself as frustrated after the hamstring failed him again.

"It happens," Uehara said, "but I have to think about what happens from tomorrow on. We'll find out when we get to the training room. At this time, I can't really tell."

Uehara struggled with the hamstring problem early in his first season with the Orioles but eventually was shut down in late June because of a partially torn flexor tendon in his right elbow.

This latest injury puts a dent in one of the few areas that have been trouble-free this spring. The Orioles have gotten good performances from several of their middle-relief candidates -- certainly more than they'll have room for when it comes time to cut down to the 25-man regular-season roster. Still, they are hopeful that Uehara can fill one of the key late setup roles, and the sore hamstring renews persistent questions about his durability.

Notes: Closer Mike Gonzalez will pitch in a minor league game Friday before returning to the mound in Grapefruit League action Sunday. He has been rehabilitating a sore back. ... Former Oriole Danys Baez is on the list of possible pitchers for the Phillies for Friday night's exhibition game. ... Trembley said he was impressed with the play of Robert Andino at third base after he replaced Miguel Tejada in the late innings. Andino also has six hits in his past 12 at-bats.

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