Simon doesn't expect hamstring strain to sideline him long

Notebook

Closer: 'I think it'll be good in a couple of days, maybe just a week'

May 23, 2010|By Dan Connolly, The Baltimore Sun

WASHINGTON — — Orioles closer Alfredo Simon said the strained left hamstring that forced him out of the 10th inning of Sunday's game with the Washington Nationals shouldn't sideline him for an extended period.

But even if he is gone for several days, it would be a big blow for an already depleted and beleaguered bullpen.

"I just feel like a little pop," said Simon, who hurt his leg while running to cover first base on a grounder to Luke Scott. "I think it'll be good in a couple of days, maybe just a week."

Simon had to leave the game after recording the first out of the inning. Cla Meredith entered and, on his fourth pitch, served up the game-winning homer to Josh Willingham.

The Orioles don't have an obvious alternative if Simon (1-1, 2.92 ERA, six saves) is shelved. Previous closers Michael Gonzalez and Jim Johnson are on the disabled list, and setup man Koji Uehara is likely headed there this week.

Triple-A Norfolk closer Frank Mata would have to be added to the 40-man roster, while Tides relievers Alberto Castillo and Kam Mickolio have struggled in big league stints in 2010.

The best in-house option likely would be left-hander Will Ohman, who hasn't allowed a run in 24 games spanning 14 2/3 innings. Simon, who will be treated in Baltimore on Monday and re-evaluated Tuesday, said this isn't the first time in his career that he has had a hamstring injury.

"Before, I had one. It was gone in like two weeks," Simon said. "I don't know what's going to happen with this one. I think I'll come back soon."

Uehara diagnosed with strain

Uehara was examined by team orthopedist Dr. John Wilckens on Sunday morning and was diagnosed with a right elbow strain (flexor-pronator strain), Uehara said through interpreter Jiwon Bang.

A magnetic resonance imaging has not been scheduled, but Uehara will be re-examined by Wilckens again Tuesday. "We haven't talked about" another disabled list stint, Uehara said, though that looks exceedingly likely for the 35-year-old right-hander.

"I don't know what to say except I feel terrible," Uehara said.

It would be the fourth time Uehara has been placed on the DL since signing a two-year, $10 million deal before the 2009 season. He made just 12 starts last season because of injuries and didn't join the Orioles this year until May 6 because of a strained hamstring he suffered in mid-March.

Uehara has made six appearances for the Orioles this season, posting a 1.80 ERA in five innings. He has made 18 appearances for the team since 2009, when he left the Nippon Baseball League to become the Orioles' first Japanese-born player.

"All I knew was his history, that he pitched, he had a lot of innings and he pitched very well. And that's what my expectation was. I think that's what everybody's expectation was," Orioles manager Dave Trembley said. "I thought this time the decision was made, the right one, to put him in the bullpen, short stints, he was going to help our club. We have what potentially looks like another setback, and it's difficult to deal with."

Call-up for Tillman or Arrieta?

If Uehara lands on the DL, the Orioles will have to decide who replaces him in the bullpen. The answer could be David Hernandez, who allowed just one hit and one run in his first win of the season Friday.

But Hernandez (1-5, 5.31 ERA) has pitched six innings or more just twice in eight starts and could be moved to the bullpen to give the club another pitcher who can throw multiple innings.

That would allow the Orioles to recall either Chris Tillman (4-4, 3.31 ERA) or Jake Arrieta (4-2, 1.93 ERA) from Norfolk and insert him into Hernandez's spot.

"We know what the possibilities are, but to be very honest with you, I couldn't tell you what we are going to do," Trembley said. "I know this: What you don't need is another guy in the bullpen that throws one inning. That's what you don't need. You need somebody that can give you multiple innings."

Around the horn

Triple-A starter Brandon Erbe (McDonogh) fell to 0-8 with a 6.80 ERA after allowing five runs in two innings against Rochester on Sunday. Ty Wigginton batted cleanup for the first time this season. He was hitless in three at-bats with a walk. Right-hander Kevin Millwood has received just 28 runs of support in his 10 starts as an Oriole. Nationals rookie reliever Drew Storen singled to left against Millwood in the sixth. It was his first professional at-bat, minors or majors.

dan.connolly@baltsun.com

http://twitter.com/danconnollysun

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