As Brandon Erbe continues to progress from his surgery last August to repair a torn labrum, he can turn to Chorye Spoone for advice.
A fellow Maryland native, Spoone had shoulder surgery in September 2008 and has pretty much made a full recovery after pitching 132 innings last summer for Double-A Bowie.
"I told him there will be days when you feel like something is hurt in your arm and it hurts to throw, like during your throwing program," Spoone said. "But you need to realize that the doctor that did your surgery, he fixed what was wrong and the pain he will feel will be normal.
"But you will notice, eventually, when you let a few go and throw hard, the first two or three might be painful. But you'll get stretched out and it feels good the whole rest of the day. You'll be throwing well.
"Then you fall asleep and everything tightens back up. That's why it takes so long to loosen the shoulder again. But you do that everyday for 60, 90, 120 days. It will be painful at times, but don't stop throwing," he said.
Spoone, who went 7-6 with a 4.02 ERA for the Baysox last year, said Erbe will have to clear some mental and physical hurdles.
"Mentally, you have to tell yourself everything is fine and throw. The person that helped me out was Zach Clark. One day I was throwing from 120 feet and my arm hurt. Zach pulled me aside and said one of these throws, just let it go and I did that and it took my breath away because it hurt. But the next throw was like I was warmed up and I finished the throwing program no problem," Spoone added.
After his surgery late in that 2008 season, Spoone returned to pitch just 29 2/3 innings in 2009. But he expects Erbe to top that.
"Everyone is different," Spoone said, "but I felt it took a little longer for me. He actually had his surgery earlier than me (on the calendar) so he has the potential to show more than I did. He maybe can throw an extra month than I did coming back. By the end of the season, he should start to feel everything coming into place. It can be like an 18-month process."
As for his own comeback, Spoone is now a member of the Orioles' 40-man roster and is very much looking forward to the 2011 season and a chance to re-establish himself as one of the organization's top pitching prospects. He was with the 2007 Frederick Keys in a rotation that included David Hernandez, Jason Berken, Brad Bergesen and Erbe.
"I got hurt and saw guys like Hernandez and (Chris) Tillman leap frog me and I didn't expect them to hold a spot for me forever, I knew that. But at the same time, for those almost two years, there wasn't anything I could do about it.
"But this is a year I think everything will come together and I'll be the way I was before but maybe better. I am for sure mentally stronger. I hope I can open some eyes," Spoone said.
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