SARASOTA, Fla. - Mark Trumbo will back off baseball activities for a while as part of the reset in his recovery from right knee surgery and, he hopes, eventual return to the lineup.
The Orioles will place Trumbo on the injured list and keep him back in Sarasota while they break camp and get ready for opening day at Yankee Stadium. Trumbo met with executive vice president and general manager Mike Elias and manager Brandon Hyde and they came to an agreement.
“The realistic part about it is I need more time,” Trumbo said. “I’d love to be out there, but if it’s not ready it’s not ready. We’re going to continue to work.
“Once it got in game action in spring it kind of flared up and never let down, so that was a pretty good indicator that we’re not there yet.”
Trumbo went 2-for-12 and mostly was used as designated hitter for two plate appearances before coming out of the game. He never played in the field.
“I can go out there and take some at-bats, but it just wasn’t a good version of me, so it just makes way more sense to get it right and go out there and do what I can,” Trumbo said.
“Playing at a disadvantage physically, it can really put you behind, so we’ll take as much time as we need and once I’m ready I’ll be out there.”
Asked how much more time he’s going to need, Trumbo replied, “I have a general idea. We’re going to kind of assess it week to week, but it could be a month, it could be more than that. With this, I don’t know.
“We spoke about the timeline recently, nine to 12 months, and we’re six and a half, seven. I’m not a doctor, but there are some guidelines we’re trying to go off. If I beat the timeline, that’s excellent. If I don’t, it’s not a letdown, either. It’s just how long it takes.
“We’re going to back off some of the baseball stuff. What’s really crucial is to make some strength gains and get a little more flexibility in the leg. We’re going to target those things over the next couple of weeks.”
Trumbo tried to remain optimistic through the winter and after reporting to camp that he’d be able to stay ahead of the timeline and make the opening day lineup.
“Best case I would have hit the ground running,” Trumbo said, “No pain, no swelling, hit well and been ready to go, but I know that wasn’t probably likely.”
Trumbo had surgery on Sept. 7 to repair a hole in the cartilage from general wear and tear that limited him to 90 games. The procedure, known as “DeNovo,” is a juvenile cartilage implant from a donor that’s packed into the opening and requires time to harden.
An eventual return would allow Trumbo to complete the final season on his three-year, $37.5 million contract. In the meantime, the soreness was “totally expected,” Trumbo said.
It was just a matter of how much and whether it restricted Trumbo to where he couldn’t perform up to his standards.
“I had fun mixing it up,” he said. “Obviously I would have liked for it to be a little more pain-free, but this injury is serious. It’s not to be taken lightly and me trying to be overaggressive is not the recipe, either. I like where we’re at, I like this plan. We put a lot of thought into it, so this is what we’re going with.”
Shutting down baseball activities could be a process that lasts weeks.
“I don’t anticipate it setting me back all that much,” he said. “I never got rolling as it was, so these at-bats don’t really carry over a month from now, so I’ll need a rehab assignment. At that time we’ll do with it.”
Andrew Cashner faced eight Pirates batters today and threw 27 pitches, 19 for strikes. He surrendered a home run to Jung Ho Kang and double to Josh Bell in the first inning and retired the side in order in the second with one strikeout.
Kang has seven spring homers, including a walk-off grand slam last week against the Orioles in Bradenton.
Instead of a routine tune-up start before breaking camp, Cashner was limited to two innings and kept available in case Alex Cobb can’t make the opening day start in the Bronx.
“I think for me you still prepare the same,” he said. “It’s just another game. Opening day is definitely different, but I was still working on spinning the breaking ball. I hung the one for the home run, but I thought everything was right where I wanted it to be.”
Cashner has made one other opening day start with the Padres on March 30, 2014. He might get a second opportunity, though at a friend and teammate’s expense.
Cobb left last night’s game after one inning with a strained groin.
“I’m sad for him,” Cashner said. “He’s one of my best friends on the team. This happened to him before. You pull for your teammates and I especially want him to get that day. I’ve had an opening day before and he hasn’t, so I definitely want him to be able to have that.”
Cashner will have to adjust how he prepares this week in case he’s needed for the first game instead of the weekend.
“It’s still the same team, whether it’s Thursday or whether it’s Saturday or whether it’s Sunday,” he said. “Just get my pitches down, keep my mental state the same and keep working on what I’m working on.”
An opener at Yankee Stadium in late March won’t feel the same as San Diego.
“Never opened up in cold weather,” he said. “It’ll be fun. We’ll see whether Cobb’s able to go or whether it’s me. I don’t know.”
The Orioles are down 1-0 in the eighth after two scoreless innings from Nate Karns and one each from Mychal Givens, Tanner Scott, Miguel Castro and Lucas Long. Scott retired the side in order with a strikeout. His streak of issuing walks ended at five appearances.
Karns hadn’t gone more than 1 2/3 innings before today.
Over in Clearwater, left-hander Paul Fry worked 1 2/3 innings as the “opener” and allowed two unearned runs and four hits. He struck out two batters.
Final update: Hyde said outfielder Austin Hays underwent an MRI on his left thumb, but he didn’t know the results.
Cashner worked two innings to stay ready in case Cobb goes on the injured list.
“It was a unique circumstance, but went out and gave two good innings, threw the ball well,” Hyde said following a 1-1 tie. “Just made a bad pitch to Kang. I thought his stuff was good. Just hung a slider to Kang. I thought we got out of it what we needed to get out of it.”
Hyde doesn’t know how Cashner’s week will be impacted by Cobb’s uncertain status.
“It’s a wait-and-see tomorrow and then we go from there,” he said. “No idea.”
The Orioles will check on Cobb’s condition Monday morning and see whether he can play catch.
“We’re not going to take any chances with the start of the year, cold weather, a lot of factors,” Hyde said. “We need to see how he feels physically tomorrow.”