Spoone looks forward to a healthy and successful 2010

In 2007 he pitched in a Frederick Keys rotation that included Brad Bergesen, David Hernandez, Jason Berken and Brandon Erbe.

He went 10-9, 3.26 for that Keys team which won the Carolina League championship. He went 2-0, 1.00 in two playoff starts, pitching a complete game when the Keys beat Salem to clinch the title.

But since then Chorye Spoone's fast track to the Majors was derailed by labrum surgery in September of 2008. Now he's healthy again and ready to show he is once again a top pitching prospect that could someday rejoin Bergesen and company in Baltimore.

"I came into the year strong (in 2008 at Bowie) and thought that would be my breakout year," Spoone said. "Early in the year I had a start where I threw a breaking ball and kind of slipped and my arm opened up real far and it felt funny. The next inning I felt sharp pain and had no velocity."

He went to the disabled list, returned to the Bowie rotation in June, but was sidelined again by the pain which led to the surgery.

And the rehab and the long road back.

"Your shoulder is loose through pitching all your life. Then you have surgery and it's tight and you almost have to learn to pitch all over again. Some days you wake up and feel strong and loose. Then it's not (loose) and you still have some pain. It can wear on you mentally."

The 24-year-old right hander is from Pasadena, Maryland in Anne Arundel County and is a 2003 Northeast High grad. He pitched two seasons for Catonsville Community College before the O's drafted him in round eight in 2005.

Spoone did return to pitch 30 innings last summer. He began with the Gulf Coast League O's in late July and also pitched at Frederick and once for Aberdeen, going 0-3, 6.37.

"I had some ups and downs. It took a little longer to warm up than usual, but once I got going I was okay. My velocity wasn't (fully) back and my command was off. I had high expectations for myself, even coming off an injury."

But now Spoone feels 100 percent healthy and, as a member of the Orioles' 40-man roster, he'll report to Major League camp next week. He is expected to start the year in Bowie's rotation.

"I know I will be a little rusty this year early on. I want to have an injury-free year and take about half the season to kind of get back to where I was. And I want to finish the season strong."

Spoone admits he can't be sure his velocity will return to where it was pre-surgery. But he has "cut it loose" a few times during throwing sessions the last few weeks at Camden Yards and is confident it will all come back in time.

"Right now I don't want a (radar) gun on me while I am throwing. I don't want to be disappointed if it's not where it's supposed to be. I know the more I throw I will get it back. I threw some 92 and 93 last year and that is just coming off surgery.

"I can't tell you how excited I am to be back. I'm ready to report to Sarasota and show everyone what I've got."

More on Chorye Spoone:
*He was taken as a draft and follow player by San Diego in round 36 in 2004.
*In 2008 with Bowie he went 3-3, 4.57 in nine starts.
*In the spring of 2008 he was rated the O's 8th best prospect by Baseball America.
*In 2007 he had a 2.88 groundball to flyball ratio with Frederick that led the Carolina League. That year he finished 2nd in the league in strikeouts and 5th in ERA.

I want to add my condolences to the many family and friends of Phil Itzoe. The Orioles employee since 1964 passed away Wednesday.

Phil had coordinated team travel since 1968. Any reporter who covered the club even for a short time, while not working directly with Phil, soon came to understand how much he was liked and respected by everyone in the O's family.

Phil entered the O's Hall of Fame in 2008. At a time when this world needs more people that are warm, generous and care so much about others, we've lost one.

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