Orioles reliever Richard Bleier underwent an X-ray today at Camden Yards and is scheduled for an MRI on Thursday to determine the severity of an injury that manager Buck Showalter said has “got the characteristics of a lat.”
The elbow is fine, but Bleier’s season is in jeopardy after he exited the game in the eighth inning.
“I just felt something in the lat area or whatever,” Bleier said. “Obviously, it was unpleasant. Just, I don’t know, that’s pretty much it.”
Bleier threw one pitch, retiring Eduardo Núñez on a ground ball, and spun off the mound in pain. He immediately left with assistant athletic trainer Mark Shires, the expression on his face a combination of pain and disappointment.
“Hope for the best,” said Showalter said. “Obviously, he was in a lot of discomfort, so we’ll see. He never had anything like that before. I didn’t get a chance to talk to him for very long. He was pretty down as you can imagine.”
Bleier reached for the area of his left elbow, but actually was grabbing behind the arm. Showalter and pitching coach Roger McDowell rushed to the mound.
“I wasn’t sure,” Showalter said. “I’m following the ground ball. Roger picked it up right away, of course. My first thought was oblique, but when you saw where he was holding up under. We’ll see. I’m not going to make any diagnosis. It could be something completely different than what any of us are thinking.
“It’s just real unfortunate. Richard has been a good pitcher for us. Regardless if he’s been good or not, it’s unfortunate.”
Minor league pitcher Chris Lee strained his lat muscle in 2016 at Double-A Bowie and appeared in only eight games. It’s an injury that can require a substantial period of healing and rehabbing.
Another loss for the Orioles, their seventh in a row and 14th in 16 games, brought an element that left Bleier shaken beyond the score.
“Yeah, exactly. It’s self-explanatory,” he said. “Any injury is not good and to the point where there was no question I couldn’t make another pitch, that’s obviously not good.
“I would say that one pitch that there was severe discomfort.”
Bleier, who lowered his ERA to 1.93 after retiring both batters, said he’s never experienced this type of injury.
“Definitely not this,” he said. “I think everybody goes through ups and downs and everybody doesn’t feel great every day. Maybe I just didn’t think it was one of those days. Maybe it was a little more than that, I guess.”
It all happened so fast that Bleier hadn’t begun to contemplate a prognosis.
“I don’t feel great right now,” he said. “We’ll see. I think I’ll have to do an MRI tomorrow and we’ll see how that goes and then go from there. Who knows? “
The Orioles needed some positive news after their 5-1 loss and they received it via Andrew Cashner’s MRI on his lower back.
“It went good,” he said. “I mean, definitely, my back started cramping up my last start, a mild strain, but I think I can be able to make my next start.”
Cashner is penciled in to pitch Tuesday night at Nationals Park.
“It started before the game and I tried to get it to work out and I just couldn’t get it to free up,” Cashner said, reflecting on Friday night’s outing in Toronto. “I think as the game went on I had no command and I was just kind of grinding through it.
“I was having real bad spasms and I didn’t really know, and the next day I was just extremely sore and then it just transpired into coming home and it hadn’t really freed up, so I started feeling better today.
“This was a first for me. I never really had a back strain before. Definitely a first.”
Cashner will throw a bullpen session over the weekend to test the back and his availability for Tuesday.
“Today’s probably the best day I’ve had yet,” he said. “Looking forward to getting some more acupuncture tomorrow and see where we end from there.”
Showalter confirmed the results of Cashner’s MRI.
“It went well as far as we didn’t find anything we didn’t expect,” he said. “For him to make the DL on the 19th looks good right now. Actually, he feels better today than he has since it started, so there’s a lot of positive results today on him.”
The day was supposed to belong to Yefry Ramirez, making his major league debut, but Bleier’s injury overshadowed him. Ramirez left after 4 1/3 innings with the Orioles down 1-0, but Mike Wright Jr. let two inherited runners score.
Ramirez allowed four hits, walked two batters and struck out six. He came out of the game after 97 pitches.
“OK, OK,” Showalter said. “It was a tough situation. He flies in here last night and walks in the locker room, it’s a sticky day. He hadn’t thrown barely over 90 pitches this year and a hot, sticky day. I thought he held his own for the most part. He gave us a chance.
“I was proud of him. Tough lineup and he competed and didn’t implode and start walking a bunch of people. He made some out pitches and you see why he’s won a lot of baseball games in his minor league career. I’m glad he got the opportunity.”
Showalter removed Ramirez after back-to-back walks with one out in the fifth.
“I just think he got to an area he hasn’t been this year but a couple times,” Showalter said. “I was really trying to keep him out of harm’s way. Obviously we’re short in the bullpen today. You’re trying to get as much out of him as you can. Quite frankly, I would have taken five (innings) going into the game today knowing where we were going to have to stop him pitch-wise. As you could tell, he was starting to labor there.”
The offense managed only two hits off left-hander Chris Sale, who came out of the game following walks to Mark Trumbo and Craig Gentry to open the seventh inning. Plate umpire Brian Knight ejected Sale for a harsh critique of the strike zone as he headed to the dugout.
The Orioles were held to one run or fewer for the 20th time this season. The offense already is in a massive rut and a pitcher of Sale’s caliber only worsens it.
“Today, I’m going to lean a lot toward Sale, but we grinded on him and made him use a lot of pitches for whatever reason,” Showalter said. “We got him out of there. We had some opportunities there. Not very many against him.
“I was most disappointed we didn’t do more after he left the game, because that’s your opportunity. You get him out of there on a day you know they’re wanting him to go deep in the game. Even though they’ve got eight relievers, they were a little short down there, even though I even saw (Craig) Kimbel get up in the ninth inning.
“It’s a combination, but it’s more him in this case. It’s tough, real tough. You see the little two-seam 89 and the changeup 86-87 and the breaking ball whenever he wants to. And then he wants to go get that extra fastball and up or in.
“It’s tough. That’s why he’s the pitcher he is. But it’s a bad combination. We’re not swinging the bat well and facing as good a pitcher as him.”