As I sat outside the clubhouse entrance at Ed Smith Stadium a few weeks ago, a player walked past me who looked exactly like former Orioles reliever Bob McCrory. I mean, they could have been separated at birth. It was uncanny.
It also was Bob McCrory.
The Orioles re-signed him about a week before Opening Day. I had completely lost track of him after he underwent shoulder and biceps surgery on Oct. 2.
Can you believe that McCrory is already pitching in extended spring training games? And pretty well, I'm told.
McCrory signed with the Red Sox in December after the Orioles let him go, but once he took a physical, they had doubts whether he would make it through a season. He went back on the free-agent market, changed agents and contacted the Orioles for one more chance.
"I worked out for a few teams and it was a situation where, medically, I guess teams were kind of hesitant," he said. "The Orioles were willing to give me an opportunity to try to get healthy and pitch again. Obviously, this is what I want to do. I don't want to get a real job."
It looked like he wouldn't have a choice. McCrory posted a 16.46 ERA in 15 major league relief appearance over the past two seasons, allowing 27 hits and walking 18 batters in 13 2/3 innings. Then came the revelation that his arm was trashed.
McCrory had a 40-percent tear in his right labrum and a 40-percent tear in his biceps tendon.
"From what I understood, the doctor wasn't as worried about the labrum as he was the biceps," McCrory said. "That's kind of been the holdup. There's not a whole lot you can do for it.
"I'm game-ready now. I'm just trying to fine-tune some things down here and hopefully go pitch somewhere."
McCrory didn't want to miss the 2010 season and admits that he might have rushed himself, but it hasn't posed any problems up to this point.
"Knock on wood, everything feels great," he said.
Dr. Andrew Cosgarea performed the surgery in Baltimore. He didn't use anchors to repair the labrum tear, which would have added significant time to McCrory's recovery.
"We really worked on a lot of strengthening stuff, the area around it," McCrory said.
McCrory threw his first two innings the week that I arrived in Sarasota.
"Everything's been great," he said. "It didn't seem like they were worried about the labrum because I still had a lot of muscular support around it to take the stress off of it. The biggest thing is the biceps tendon because there's not a whole lot they can do for it."