It was a strange sight at Camden Yards this afternoon - Orioles pitcher Pedro Strop, who went on the disabled list Saturday with a lower back strain, fielding ground balls at shortstop and making throws to first base.
It turns out J.J Hardy has nothing to worry about. Strop, who was an infielder from 2005-08 in the Colorado organization, is not going back to the dirt. But when he gets back on the mound, the Orioles want him to throw more strikes and today was one step in the process of helping him try to do that better.
"That was a drill," Strop explained. "This helps you get used to your normal delivery and you don't have to think about it. It's natural, as you've been doing since you were a kid. That way, you get to clear your mind with your natural arm action, rather than thinking about mechanics.
"I've done it before with my original organization, the Rockies, when I switched to pitcher from a position player. Whenever I needed to get back on track, they just hit me ground balls at shortstop. Rick (Adair) brought it up without knowing I used to do that before. He's just mentioned it and I was like, 'Let's do it.'
"I felt good doing the drill. When you see your pitching coach creating things to help you, it makes you feel better, too."
In his last two games, Strop allowed four runs in one combined inning. He is 0-2 with a 6.11 ERA on the year with 14 walks over 17 2/3 innings.
In addition to the work at short, Strop threw about 20 pitches in the bullpen today.
"Just getting back to normal delivery. Feels good," he said.
Strop could possibly be sent out to the minors on an injury rehab assignment, but he said that had not been determined yet.
"They haven't told me anything yet," he said. "But when people go on the DL, they usually go get a few innings in down there. I'll do whatever they ask me to."
He said his lower back injury was not a problem for him in the 'pen session.
"When I threw the first few pitches today from the mound, I was kind of afraid a bit, just thinking about it," Strop said. "But after a couple of throws, I didn't feel anything and I just let it go. No pain at all."