For a few seasons, he was the only Bundy in the Orioles organization. But last summer, he watched his younger brother Dylan blaze a trail through the O’s minor league system while his own career was going in another direction, eventually hitting brick wall.
The Orioles drafted Bobby Bundy in the eighth round out of Sperry High in Oklahoma in June 2008. He worked his way to Single-A Frederick, where he had a breakout season in 2011. But a year later, trying to show his stuff at Double-A Bowie, Bundy started dealing with elbow soreness early in the year.
“It was kind of a roller coaster,” he said by phone from Oklahoma this week. “From the very first start, it didn’t feel right. I thought it was just the cold. But that wasn’t the case. I was sore throughout the week, even on game day from the previous outing. It just wasn’t something we could keep trying to push through.”
That brick wall came in July. After two starts, where he gave up 15 runs over 3 2/3 innings to push his ERA over 6.00, it was determined that Bundy would have bone spurs removed from his right elbow. Dr. Jeff Angel of Batesville, Ark., performed the procedure on July 21.
For most of 2011, Bundy was creating a buzz with his pitching at Frederick, where he went 11-5 with a 2.75 ERA over 20 starts and made the mid-season All-Star team. He was the Orioles’ minor league Pitcher of the Month for both May and July, and finished third in the Carolina League in ERA and WHIP at 1.10.
But in five late-season games that season with Bowie, he posted an ERA of 9.60. Then last season, before his surgery, he was just 2-11 with an ERA of 6.25 for Bowie. His ERA was 4.79 before those last two starts.
“It was definitely disappointing and frustrating,” Bundy said of his 2012 season. “I feel like I can pitch at a high level and think I have the physical ability to do it. I look forward to proving myself again.”
Bundy said he is making solid progress from the surgery. He was told to rest his right arm completely for 12 weeks, but has been throwing bullpens for about a month now, starting slowly and throwing only about 15 to 20 fastballs at first.
“At 12 weeks, they said I could start playing real light catch - you know, around 50 to 60 feet a couple of times a week, just to get the arm moving again,” he said. “Took it real slow and later moved into the Orioles’ throwing program. I was cleared to do anything that I’ve done in any previous offseason. That includes our workouts and the routines Dylan and I do that we feel helps us maintain shoulder strength.
“The goal is to come into spring training as close to 100 percent as I can (minor league pitchers report March 2), see what the Orioles have in store for me with my throwing program and progression. I’m hoping to be on a normal schedule with the other guys.”
Some pitchers, after they’ve had surgery, have to get past some mental hurdles on their way to getting back to where they once were. Bundy said he feels he’s already checked that off the list.
“I’ve always been a pretty mentally strong guy. I feel better now than I did all of last season. That, in itself, gives me a lot of confidence. I’m pretty happy where I’m at right now. Now there is nothing in my elbow giving me any problems anymore,” he said.
Always a pretty determined young man, the right-hander who turned 23 in January, is now more motivated than ever to show the Orioles he can pitch like he did in 2011. He wants to remind everyone that there can be two Bundys, not just one, to be excited about.
“(My determination) is stronger than ever. Right now, the goal is to be healthy at the start of spring and take it day by day. I want to prove to myself and the Orioles by the end of spring that I can pitch at a high level again,” he said.