The Orioles received two pieces of good medical news within the past few days.
Top pitching prospect Dylan Bundy’s right shoulder passed the test administered by Dr. James Andrews. He’s been cleared to start a throwing program.
Miguel Gonzalez may go on the disabled list as the Orioles begin a three-game series in Toronto, but MRIs on his right shoulder and elbow revealed nothing more serious than tendinitis that’s causing inflammation. There’s nothing structurally wrong.
Gonzalez was most worried about his elbow after undergoing ligament-reconstructive surgery six years ago, but the Orioles believe the swelling was caused by overcompensating for the fatigue in his shoulder.
Bundy told me earlier today that he’s going to start light tossing next week. He’s currently at home in Oklahoma, but will head down to Florida and play catch with minor league medical coordinator Dave Walker and anyone else to wants to put on a glove.
“I’ll get out to maybe 120 feet and then hopefully a couple of half-mounds,” Bundy said.
Bundy, 22, made eight starts with Double-A Bowie before being shut down, the most recent on May 21 in Trenton, when he tossed four scoreless innings and struck out five batters. He was 0-3 with a 3.68 ERA in 22 innings, with five walks and 25 strikeouts.
The pain that Bundy felt was caused by calcification in the Teres minor muscle behind his shoulder. This is where he’s better off explaining it than me.
“It’s like a small bone growth in a muscle back there,” said Bundy, who visited Andrews on Monday in Pensacola, Fla. “Luckily it’s the smallest muscle. It doesn’t do as much as the bigger one.
“For some reason, calcification formed back there and caused pain when I was throwing. Dr. Andrews said it will either go away or mature and I’ll be pain-free. It’s like when you break a bone. It takes a while to heal. This is the same thing. It has to grow to a mature bone. And I guess it was just hurting because it was trying to grow.”
Bundy’s case is unique for an athlete in his profession.
“Dr. Andrews is one of the best, if not the best, and he said he’s never seen it in a thrower,” Bundy said. “It’s kind of sketchy and it’ll be interesting to see what happens. But most people see it in their hamstring or quad, but not so much the shoulder. We’ll see how it goes.”
Bundy, the fourth-overall pick in the 2011 First-Year Player Draft, has been performing a series of exercises while waiting to receive clearance to start throwing.
“I’m rehabbing it like surgery, but it’s not a surgery, obviously. But we’re kind of treating it like that,” Bundy said.
“I’ve got all my range of motion and strength back in the shoulder,” Bundy said, “so I should be good to go.”
The Orioles want Bundy to throw in the fall instructional league, but he won’t be included among their prospects in the Arizona Fall League.
“I’m going to start throwing next week real light, test it for three or four days, then go to Florida and start the throwing program,” Bundy said. “I’ll start out at 50 feet and gradually get to 120, maybe 150, and by the end of instructs I should be on a half-mound. Then they said to shut down and rest until spring training.”
The Orioles are expected to hold another January minicamp in Sarasota, and Bundy probably will be invited so manager Buck Showalter, pitching coach Dave Wallace, bullpen coach Dom Chiti and others can evaluate him.
Bundy made two relief appearances for the Orioles in 2012 and hasn’t made it back to the majors after undergoing ligament-reconstructive surgery on his right elbow. His only health issue this year involved the shoulder.
“My elbow is great,” he said. “I haven’t had one problem with my elbow.”
The Orioles could face a problem with their roster next season. Bundy will be out of minor league options.
“I know the situation and I know how it’s supposed to turn out,” he said. “I look forward to going to spring training healthy and completely strong for the bullpen or whatever they want me to do and help the team.
“I don’t want them to put me on the team and not help them.”