Orioles get good news on injury front

No new worries for Roberts, Duchscherer; Lee, Uehara progress further

March 15, 2011|By Jeff Zrebiec, The Baltimore Sun

SARASOTA, Fla. — — On a day when they performed terribly on the field, the Orioles got much-needed positive news on the injury front as the imaging results on Brian Roberts and Justin Duchscherer turned up no new concerns and Derrek Lee and Koji Uehara moved closer to seeing game action.

Still, there is no timetable on any of the four, and they are running out of time with Opening Night on April 1. Orioles manager Buck Showalter described Duchscherer's chances of making the Opening Day rotation as being "in peril" and said Roberts' opening the season with the club remains a "possibility," a softening of the stance team officials have taken on the second baseman for much of the spring.

"As bad as our game was on the field — it wasn't a good day there — we did get good medical news, and in the grand scheme of things, that is probably more important," said Orioles president of baseball operations Andy MacPhail, who watched his club lose, 14-8, to a Houston Astros team playing just three regulars. "We'll just have to see how it plays out, but was good news on [the Roberts and Duchscherer] fronts."

The reaction from Showalter and MacPhail to the injury questions was predictably muted. Both Roberts, who has been dealing with back and neck pain, and Duchscherer, still struggling with his surgically repaired left hip, have seemingly been alternating good weeks and bad weeks all spring, and they'll remain shut down from extensive baseball activities for the next couple of days.

"With [Duchscherer] and Robby, there wasn't anything new going on there, but that doesn't mean everything is fine," Showalter said. "There are still some persistent things that have been a challenge for both of them."

Roberts was limited to 59 games last year because of a herniated disk in his back. He said his most recent back issues are unrelated to what ailed him last year, calling last year's problems "100 times worse," and saying the pain is in a different area. However, he acknowledged that he has been dealing with neck discomfort since January in addition to experiencing back spasms about 10 days ago.

Roberts, 33, said the recent pain was a concern, but some of the fears were lifted when he got the results back from the MRI and consulted Tuesday with a back specialist whom he saw on multiple occasions last year.

"He just said that there was nothing new or anything. We'll let the inflammation or whatever was causing the discomfort calm down, and we'll move on," said Roberts, who called the doctor visit encouraging and said he's feeling "quite a bit" better. "I just tried to stay positive. I didn't think that there was anything crazy wrong, but there was enough going on that needed to get taken care of."

The second baseman and leadoff hitter has just 12 at-bats this spring and hasn't played in a game since March 7, when he made an illadvised head-first slide into first base against the New York Yankees. He resumed minimal baseball activities Tuesday, throwing from 90 feet and participating in a light workout, and Showalter said the club will take it slow with one of its most important players.

"We mapped out a potential schedule if everything proceeds as normal and we don't have any setbacks," Showalter said. "We're together on how it's going to work if he doesn't have any physical setbacks. I'm not going to throw it out there. With the way we got it mapped out, we're going to take it day to day, but so far, so good. He got through the hurdle today and yesterday with the medical part of it, so we're upbeat about that."

Roberts, who started the Orioles' first four games last year before going on the disabled list for 31/2 months, still believes it's realistic that he'll be in the Orioles' lineup on Opening Night.

"It's just going to be a progression, starting today," Roberts said. "We're not going to necessarily put days on it … but certainly, my goal and my hope is to still play Opening Day."

Duchscherer, 33, sounded far less optimistic than Roberts when he spoke to reporters this morning.

He said his left hip "felt like it did last year" before he had surgery on it June 7. However, an arthrogram — dye was injected in his hip — didn't immediately reveal any new concerns. Duchscherer has had three hip surgeries in his career.

The right-hander will be sidelined two or three more days to allow the dye to leave his system.

"The bottom line is he understands his hip better than anybody and what he may be able to pitch with and what he may not be able to pitch with, and we are still in between there," Showalter said. "It's an inexact thing if he can get to a point where he's comfortable with it. If not, we are going to have to decide what we are going to do."

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