SARASOTA, Fla. - Matt Hobgood is nearing the one-year anniversary of his shoulder surgery from last April 2 that kept him out all of last season after he was limited to 37 innings in 2011.
He’s been dealing with shoulder soreness since he pitched for rookie-level Bluefield in 2009, the year the Orioles made the fifth overall pick in the First-Year Player Draft.
Hobgood hopes his injury issues are behind him for good and today he pitched a scoreless inning for Single-A Delmarva against Tampa Bay at Twin Lakes Park.
“Today I threw 11 or 12 pitches. One curveball, one change-up and the rest were fastballs,” Hobgood said. “Arm felt good, pretty similar to how I threw last Thursday (when I also threw one inning.) I made a bad 0-1 pitch, I tried to throw a two-seam on the inner half of the plate and it ran back over the middle and the guy hit a ball in the gap.
“But no more pain,” he added with a smile, saying this is the best he’s felt since he’s been with the Orioles.
After the first batter he faced grounded out, Hobgood gave up a triple, but he stranded the runner getting another groundout and then a fly out.
His velocity is 88-90 mph right now, but he said the doctors have told him it will take some time for that to fully return.
“I touched 91 I think, but like I said, the arm feels good,” Hobgood said. “It would be nice to see 96 or 97 again, but that’s probably not going to happen until the end of the year or maybe even take until next spring. The doctor said it could take a year and a half.”
Meanwhile in the same game, lefty Josh Hader pitched two scoreless innings and could be headed for Delmarva’s rotation to start the year. Not bad for a local product from the Baltimore area that was pitching at Old Mill High in Anne Arundel County this time last year. The O’s drafted him in the 19th round last June.
In 28 2/3 pro innings last summer between the rookie-level Gulf Coast Orioles and short-season Single-A Aberdeen, he gave up just 14 hits, walked nine and fanned 48 as his fastball velocity dramatically increased from 85 or 86 in high school to touching 93 and 94 at times last summer.
“I guess it was just throwing every day and long toss and all that, keeping my arm in check,” Hader said of his velocity increase.
One source said the Orioles made an adjustment with Hader’s leg kick that led to smoother and quicker mechanics that also helped him.
With Buck Showalter and Dan Duquette at the minor league camp to watch Wei-Yin Chen throw, Hader’s outing drew some of the brass as well.
“I saw them in the second inning I pitched. It’s an honor to have them see me. I am not trying to fully let it loose yet, I am just working on things like my change-up and command right now,” he said.
Other notes from camp:
* Cuban outfielder Henry Urrutia took part in batting practice today and is expected to get several at-bats Tuesday at Twin Lakes Park in a simulated game. Urrutia is pretty much over his minor ankle injury and could be playing in a minor league game in a few days.
* Pitcher Oliver Drake, a former member of the Orioles’ 40-man roster, is taking part in his rehab program at camp after undergoing shoulder surgery last Aug. 20.
“They cleaned up a little of the labrum, but they had to shrink a capsule basically in my shoulder,” Drake said. “It was stretched out to twice the size of a normal capsule and the tendon was moving around in there. I’ll probably be down here through extended (spring training) but I hope to join one of the teams at some point this season. I have started to throw bullpens, I’m in the early stages of that and the next step will be facing hitters in simulated games.”
* The Orioles’ Triple-A squad traveled to Port Charlotte to face the Rays today. The game was rained out after one inning, but the O’s faced 2012 AL Cy Young Award winner David Price. He wound up walking three hitters and the O’s got a run off him on Brandon Waring’s RBI single.
* The Orioles have signed a pitcher from Baltimore’s Parkville High School - Kevin Jacob, who was recently released by St. Louis. Last season, in the New York-Penn and Midwest Leagues, he went 4-2 with a 4.50 ERA. He had 48 strikeouts over 46 innings.
The 6-foot-6, 225-pound Jacob has pitched two years in the minors after a college career at Georgia Tech. I’m told he does have some mid-90s heat.