As we’ve seen this season, in a pitcher elbow soreness inevitably leads to a first opinion, a second opinion and almost always, season-ending Tommy John surgery. So far it seems that only Chicago starter Chris Sale has seemed to escape going under the knife. Sale recently came off the disabled list looking as good or better than his former self.
The question hovering around the Baltimore Orioles revolves around this same type of injury. Although the injury occurred to their two-time All-Star catcher, the question remains. Will Matt Wieters be able to make a return to baseball in 2014?
Wieters has not caught a game since May 4 and not appeared in any games, even as the designated hitter, since May 10. It is now May 30 and Wieters is finally scheduled to play catch for the first time.
Wieters was sent to see Tommy John surgery specialist Dr, James Andrews. He received a platelet-rich plasma injection on May 12 from Andrews and has continued seeking treatment for his elbow.
Hopefully for the Orioles, the Gold Glover will return to baseball in time to help in a playoff push. Still it appears the Orioles are going to be stuck playing the waiting game. The Baltimore Sun reported that the Orioles hope to know by July 1 if the Gold Glover will be back or need the season-ending surgery.
Although Wieters’ most recent public comments have been positive there is still no telling on whether or not he will be able to return. He told the Baltimore Sun’s Eduardo A. Encina on Thursday,
“It’s gotten a lot better over the last few days, which is what we were waiting on. Now it’s just a matter of going through the throwing progression and hopefully everything keeps getting better. Every movement that gets me back towards getting on the field is good.”
Even if Friday’s session is completely successfully with too much pain, Weiters is going to have to move slowly in his recovery. He will first start with light sessions of throwing and then moving on to swinging the bat. So it does look like it will be another month until he and the Orioles learn his true fate.
In the mean time the Orioles traded to get catcher Nick Hundley on Saturday from the San Diego Padres to fill in for Wieters. An experienced catcher and veteran, Hundley will take over the starting duties and rookie Caleb Joseph will remain in as the Orioles’ back-up catcher.
It’s a shame whether Wieter’s makes his return or not. Wieters was off to a strong start in 2014, the best of his career actually. He was batting .308, well above his .257 career average, with five home runs and 18 RBI before being sidelined. He is also first among catchers in the American League All-Star voting. It would be hard for any player to regain that kind of momentum coming off an injury and being out of the game for two-plus months.
For now it is just a game of wait and see until July, when Wieters and the Orioles will take a look at his progress and then make a more long term decision.