Coulombe injury latest obstacle Orioles must clear

The Orioles are tested almost on a daily basis. The opponent is just a fragment of it.

Injuries are rampant throughout baseball and no one is feeling sorry for manager Brandon Hyde’s club, but a hug now and then would be nice.

The Braves are trying to catch the Phillies without outfielder Ronald Acuña Jr., who now has torn the anterior cruciate ligament in both knees in the last three years. The Phillies just lost catcher J.T. Realmuto to right knee surgery and already were missing shortstop Trea Turner and outfielder Brandon Marsh to hamstring injuries.

The Yankees are fighting to stay ahead of the Orioles while waiting for Gerrit Cole to make his 2024 debut. Outfielder Juan Soto missed time with left forearm inflammation. Mariners first baseman Ty France fractured his right heel.

This is just scratching the surface, which feels more like deep cuts.

Danny Coulombe is a high-leverage left-hander reliever in one of baseball’s best bullpens and he’s undergoing more tests on his sore left elbow. The inflammation forced him on the 15-day injured list yesterday.

Anything elbow related is cause for concern. No one understands this better than the Orioles, who lost John Means and Tyler Wells for the season with damaged anterior cruciate ligaments. Means underwent his second Tommy John surgery on June 3. Wells is headed for some type of procedure.

“Injuries are part of the game and there’s a lot of pitching injuries happening right now around the league,” Hyde said yesterday. “It scares you, so you try to keep your guys as healthy as possible, knowing that things like this are going to happen.”

Owning a 44-22 record is a remarkable achievement considering that Kyle Bradish began the season on the injured list with a sprained ACL. Means and Wells are done and Félix Bautista will miss the entire season following his Tommy John surgery in October 2023. Dean Kremer is on the IL with a right triceps strain. Grayson Rodriguez was on it with right shoulder inflammation. Cionel Pérez made one appearance and went on the IL March 31 with an oblique strain.

(Pérez took a comebacker off the leg last night, but the Orioles are on such a roll, the ball ricocheted to third baseman Ramón Urías to begin a 1-5-4 force play.)

Austin Hays has been shelved by illness, a calf strain, bruised ribs and back tightness. Jorge Mateo missed a week with a concussion after a freak accident near the on-deck circle.

More like the circle of death for some players.

Can you feel the lump tonight?

Of course, because this is the 2024 Orioles, Hays had three hits and an RBI last night and Mateo homered in his return. They just find a way.

Two fans walked up to the press box to ask me about the severity of Coulombe’s injury. I had nothing. The reaction to elbow inflammation is similar to a forearm strain. Might be minor but you automatically assume the worst.

We didn’t hear “as a precaution” yesterday. We did hear “further tests done” and “hoping for the best.”

We didn’t hear from Coulombe, who was at his locker as the media entered, his IL stint unknown to us, and eventually left. Had we known about his situation, we would have surrounded him like an episode of “Cops.”

If you need comforting, consider how Coulombe didn’t throw a pitch and suddenly walk off the mound with an athletic trainer. He was dominant Saturday for his two innings, striking out the side in the eighth. He felt some soreness, not searing pain, while playing catch. And trust me on this, he was smiling yesterday for the 10 seconds that we saw him. He wasn’t holed up in the trainers’ room.

We aren’t talking about a triple-digit Bautista clone who was in danger of blowing out his arm. Maybe that helps, too, though Means also doesn’t fit the profile.

An extended absence from Coulombe would be a kick in the gut. He posted a 2.42 ERA and 0.615 WHIP in 29 appearances, with 28 strikeouts and only three walks and three home runs in 26 innings. And there’s no matchup that makes you nervous.

Right-handers are hitting .130/.175/.315 against him, and left-handers are hitting .171/.171/.229. Every manager wants that guy in the ‘pen. The job becomes so much easier, especially with the three-batter minimum.

The bullpen accounted for 3 2/3 scoreless innings last night and has allowed only two runs in the last 40 2/3. Perhaps it will keep humming along without Coulombe.

A team that loves to blast music in the clubhouse after wins doesn’t want to hear that tune.

In his second MLB start Cade Povich faces friend, ...
Suárez has scoreless start, Mateo mashes in return...

By accepting you will be accessing a service provided by a third-party external to