Townsend set to return to the diamond

It's been a tough season for first baseman Tyler Townsend, the Orioles third-round pick out of Florida International in the 2009 draft.

It began with Townsend suffering a hamstring injury during winter workouts. But he felt fine when spring training began. Then, he hurt the hamstring again and didn't report to Delmarva until April 20.

He would go 5 for 10 at bat with 2 RBI over the next three games. Then, he hurt that same hamstring in his left leg again.

He returned to Sarasota for more rest and rehab and now is finally back and ready to resume playing again.

The 22-year-old, left-handed hitter is scheduled to play three games starting today for the Gulf Coast League Orioles. If all goes well, he should rejoin Delmarva on Thursday for the start of their second half after the All-Star break.

"It's been a little frustrating. I hit the ball really well in extended in the few games I played, then went up to Delmarva and hit the ball well in a few games there. Felt comfortable and was looking forward to a big season and making some moves in the organization. So it's frustrating to be sidelined and watching everyone else play," Townsend said.

"This time we have really taken our time (with the hamstring) and hopefully this time it's good to go."

Townsend said he's had about 15 to 20 at bats vs. pitchers in batting practice. He needs to guard against trying to make up for lost time when he gets back to the South Atlantic League.

"I have to take it one day at a time and just play my game. I can't get hurt again, because this time it could be for the rest of this season."

Townsend should be a real fan favorite for Delmarva. He is from nearby Lewes, Delaware and was the Delaware High School Player of the Year with Cape Henlopen in 2006. He attended Shorebirds games as a kid.

"I talk to my parents and they say they hear from friends about me. I went away for college, so some of them haven't really seen me play in four years. They're excited to see me and it's fun to play in front of friends and family."

The O's feel Townsend could become a hitter to show some power after batting .426-24-77 in 2009 when he was one of the best hitters in all of college baseball.

He struggled at Aberdeen last year, batting just .143 in 31 games when he was slowed by a wrist injury. But he made solid strides at bat last fall at instructional league and then got five hits in those three games in April.

Now, he's got his fingers crossed that the hamstring injury is gone for good and he can finally add to his season totals of five hits and ten at bats.

"Hopefully I can pick up where I left off. I feel comfortable there, it's close to home. It's a good atmosphere to play in."

Here is an article from the paper in Bluefield about the opening tomorrow of the Appalachian League season.

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