The next step is here for O’s right-hander Koji Uehara. He will head to Sarasota, Florida tomorrow to begin a throwing program that the Orioles hope will lead to him returning to the team and the mound in September.
But this time the 34-year-old from Japan will pitch out of the O’s bullpen.
He has been on the DL twice this year, most recently with right elbow tendonitis that was later termed a partially torn flexor tendon. He has spent more days this year on the DL, than on the active roster.
Koji went 2-4, 4.05 in 12 starts this year and has not pitched since June 23rd at Florida.
Through his interpreter, he briefly answered some questions earlier today in the O’s clubhouse.
Is he excited to go to Florida to continue his rehab? - “Nothing to be excited about.”
Is he disappointed to come back as reliever? - “He’s not disappointed to be a reliever, no.”
How does he assess his first season in the Majors? - “Hard to do that since the season is not over yet. I’d rather wait until the season is over to look back on it.”
Next year would you prefer to start or be a reliever? - “I consider myself a starter so I will workout and prepare in the off-season as a starter.”
How frustrating has the season been? - “The way I look at, it’s been ten years I’ve played professionally and I take this as it has caught up with me.”
Is it important to come back and finish strong in September? - “Not really, no. I don’t want to rush myself.”
So he’s not certain he will be able to even pitch in September? - “I can’t determine that.”