Matt Hobgood, the fifth overall pick in the 2009 First-Year Player Draft, is flying home to California for the holidays after receiving good news earlier today from Dr. Craig Morgan.
Hobgood said he passed all of the tests administered by Dr. Morgan, who performed surgery in April to tighten the pitcher's right shoulder capsule.
"He laid me on my back and tested my shoulder in terms of flexibility, and he said it's right in terms of where it needs to be," Hobgood said. "He said it looks strong and I'm going to make him look good eventually."
Hobgood said a couple of doctors told him that the pain he'd been experiencing was caused by a torn rotator cuff. He tried rehabbing twice and had to be shut down because of continuing pain. Dr. Morgan, who's based in Wilmington, Del., recommended a procedure that, so far, is bringing positive results.
Hobgood said he no longer has to visit Dr. Morgan. He's waiting for the Orioles to decide when he should report to the Twin Lakes Park complex in Sarasota, and whether he can skip extended spring training in April and join one of the affiliates.
"That would put me a year from surgery, and that's when I'm supposed to be fully healthy. That's what Dr. Morgan told me," said Hobgood, 22, who hasn't pitched since appearing in five games with the rookie-level Gulf Coast League team and eight games with short-season Single-A Aberdeen in 2011.
"It's about a year and a half when I'm supposed to return to what I was before I was hurt. I'd like to break with (Single-A) Delmarva at least and see where things go from there. I wouldn't expect my innings to be that high this year, but I don't want to go to extended spring training. I don't know what they're planning. If they like what they see, maybe I'll be in Delmarva to start the season."
Hobgood is 4-15 with a 5.48 ERA in 42 games (41 starts), with 173 hits allowed, 72 walks and 97 strikeouts in 157 2/3 innings. He hasn't advanced past Delmarva, where he made 21 starts in 2010.
"I think this is a big year for me," he said. "I don't know what's going to happen innings-wise. I'm probably not going to go out there and throw 150-160 innings like I'd like to, but I have the same hopes as before. I'd like to go out and have a great year in whatever area I can."
It all starts with being healthy again.
"You can't pitch if you're hurt," he said.
Note: The Babe Ruth Birthplace Foundation today announced that it will host its annual Babe's Birthday Bash on Friday, Feb. 8, from 5:30-9 p.m. at Sports Legends Museum at Camden Yards. The event will celebrate the 118th anniversary of Ruth's birth in Baltimore on Feb. 6, 1895.
Tickets to the event are $45 each for members of the museum, $55 apiece for the general public when purchased in advance and $60 each at the door on the night of the event. Ten or more tickets purchased together are discounted at $40 each.
The evening will include admission to Sports Legends Museum's galleries, unlimited ballpark-inspired food and beverages, a silent auction, appearances by local professional and amateur athletes and free parking at Camden Yards.
Proceeds from the event will benefit the Babe Ruth Birthplace Foundation.
Tickets are available by calling Whitney Edmonds at 410-727-1539, ext. 3033 or online at www.BabeRuthMuseum.org.