More on yesterday’s moves, Bleier with post-surgery update

NEW YORK - The Orioles started last night’s series opener against the Yankees with only 23 players on their active roster. They subtracted starter Kevin Gausman and second baseman Jonathan Schoop, and infielder Breyvic Valera didn’t show up from Triple-A Norfolk until after the first pitch.

A pitcher will be added before today’s game and another move is anticipated Thursday with infielder Jonathan Villar joining the team following yesterday’s trade with the Brewers.

Villar can be a useful player for the Orioles. A switch-hitter who steals bases and can handle second base, shortstop and third base. He’s also been used in center field and left field.

Perhaps the biggest stunner yesterday was the inclusion of Darren O’Day in the trade with the Braves. He hadn’t been rumored in any deals based on age, contract and season-ending hamstring surgery. But the Braves are taking on the rest of his 2018 salary and the $9 million owed next year.

The Orioles were right to bring back O’Day, though they should have done the same with Andrew Miller. However, he made five trips to the disabled list and couldn’t reach the level that made him one of the game’s top setup men.

Let’s not forget what he meant to this club during its playoff runs. And especially in 2012 when he insisted every night that he was available to pitch. Two scoreless innings in the wild card game in Texas. Five scoreless and hitless innings in four appearances in the Division Series.

A leader in the clubhouse and in the bullpen. And one of the more thoughtful interviews. Personalties like O’Day’s aren’t common.

I kept preaching how the Orioles needed to extend Schoop or trade him and try to get maximum value before he became a free agent next winter. I liked him as a player to build around, but the Orioles are determined to cut payroll and put the savings toward other facets of the operation, including international scouting.

It’s going to take a while for the clubhouse to seem normal again. Reliever row no longer will include O’Day, Zach Britton and Brad Brach. No more Schoop at second base. Gausman is gone before he became what we anticipated after the Orioles grabbed him with the fourth overall pick out of LSU.

Thumbnail image for Bleier throwing white.jpgAs trades were going down just before the 4 p.m. deadline, left-hander Richard Bleier was visiting with teammates after his follow-up exam on his shoulder.

Bleier underwent surgery in June to repair a Grade 3 tear in his lat muscle.

“It’s going OK,” he said. “Today I met with Dr. (Anthony) Romeo, the surgeon. Six weeks, believe it or not. I was in a sling for the last six weeks, so today was actually a really good day for me because I got approved to lose the sling, so that’s pretty exciting.”

Now comes a lengthy rehab and a throwing program that could begin in three months.

“The tendon is attached to the bone again and now it’s just flexibility, range of motion stuff, and then spring training and throwing and building up my arm and then bullpens and games,” Bleier said. “There’s a huge gap from now until throwing and there’s a lot that has to happen, obviously, but throwing is definitely my next major accomplishment.”

Bleier remains confident that he’ll be ready for spring training.

“Yeah, absolutely,” he said. “I think the timing was good in terms of the recovery on this injury, where it puts me right up to spring training. If it would have happened a month later I would have been a month late, I would have missed a month of the season or all of spring training. But the way this is going to work out, it could put me right up to spring training 100 percent ready to go if there’s no setbacks.

“Obviously, there’s a lot of hurdles to climb from now until then.”

He might not recognize the team after he returns.

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