What Simon said

Last April, Alfredo Simon began the year in the O’s starting rotation. Two starts later he was on the DL and headed for Tommy John surgery.

Now, less than a year later he is back with the Orioles and will join the O’s bullpen tonight.

“I just feel happy because they gave me the chance again. I want to help this team and do the best I can,” the 28-year-old Simon said.

“My arm feels like new. That’s the best thing and I was throwing all my pitches for strikes. I feel great. I threw one inning (out of the pen with Norfolk) and felt comfortable. I’ll just go after the hitters.”

Simon was 1-1, 1.59 with Norfolk in three starts and that one inning in relief on Sunday. In 17 innings, he gave up 15 hits and three earned runs with five walks and 14 strikeouts. The league hit .238 off him.

With the May 5th anniversary of his surgery approaching, he is already back in the Majors.

“I worked hard to be back here. They know I’m ready to go. I’m excited and worked hard to get back this quick.”

Dave Trembley called Simon’s quick return “an incredible story” and said he was clearly very strong mentally and physically.

“He told me ‘I’m not afraid and want the ball,’” the skipper said.

Some pitchers have come back from Tommy John surgery with better velocity than before the surgery. Simon says, he is one of those pitchers.

“I think I throw harder than last year. I was throwing hard last year, but not like now. Now the next day I feel great so I’m really happy now.”

The Orioles found Simon in the Mexican League in late 2008. Even though he could have signed with another club over the winter, he said he felt loyalty to the one team that gave him a Major League shot.

“The reason (I resigned) is they gave me the opportunity when I needed it. I really like the Orioles. I feel happy here.”

At Triple-A this year, lefty batters hit .265 off Simon and right-handed hitters batted .207. He held hitters to an average of just .200 (4 for 20) when pitching with runners in scoring position with eight strikeouts.

Trembley has not ruled out using the hard thrower in late relief, possibly even giving him a shot to close some games.

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