Exclusive: O's prospect Matt Hobgood talks about his shoulder injury

In a phone conversation this afternoon, Matt Hobgood said he felt some soreness in his shoulder during a light, mid-December throwing session and that led him to pre-Christmas visits with Drs. John Wilckens and Lewis Yocum.

They both said he has a strained rotator cuff, but does not need surgery.

Hobgood described this as "a minor setback" but also said it's possible his shoulder problems could date back to sometime in 2009. He also feels the shoulder issue is the primary reason he has not been able to pitch in the pros with the fastball velocity he showed during high school ball in California.

Hobgood told me he was certain he will be able to pitch during the 2011 season.

"I'm very confident in that. I know I'll be pitching this year," Hobgood said. "I don't know where or when but I know I'll be pitching in a game this year and I'll get back on track as soon as I can.

"The next four to six weeks, basically, I'll be doing rehab. I had an MRI last week and everything is fine, little bit of a strain in my rotator cuff. But any doctor would say a lot of pitchers have problems with their arms, that they either pitch through those or rehab and I'm on the rehab side.

"This is a minor setback. I think it's something that I've possibly had for awhile and me being a bigger guy may have masked it. I think it kind of caught up to me but it didn't happen on any one pitch."

Hobgood said the fastball velocity he had in his last high school game in May 2009 could not be duplicated later that summer when he reported to the Orioles affiliate in Bluefield.

In high school, he would pitch mostly between 92 and 94 and last year at Delmarva, he was mostly 87 to 90, once hitting 93, with his fastball, he said.

"In my last high school playoff game I was up to 96 or 97 and felt fine, no problems at all," Hobgood said. "That was, I think, the last day of that May (in 2009). Took off four weeks and reported to Bluefield June 28th and sometime in July it got a little sore. I just figured it was because I hadn't thrown in a month.

"The last year and a half, two years, it hasn't been any particular pitch. It just started acting up on me more this year, but I couldn't tell you when or where or how it happened."

For the next few weeks, the plan is to undergo the rehab process in California.

"Just rehab. I wouldn't say it's common, but it happens. I just need to do rehab and take that seriously as I have everything they've told me to do. Just four to six weeks and we go from there," he said. "I have never done rehab for anything other than when I broke my ankle my freshman year in basketball. I'm not too familiar with it. Their time frame for me is four to six weeks."

Hobgood said he had never before had a shoulder problem in his amateur and youth career. He doesn't expect this injury to blow up into anything more major.

"It's not that big. It's just something that is hindering the way I throw and my pitching mechanics. Neither (doctor) recommended surgery. They both put their heads together and decided that rehab would be the best choice, but neither said that surgery was in the question. It's better to have found it when I'm 20, rather than 25."

Tomorrow, I'll post more comments from today's interview with Matt.

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