CLEVELAND - The Orioles are getting one of their key relievers back tonight. And he feels like he’s ready now to duplicate his past success.
Following his lat surgery last June, lefty Richard Bleier did make it back in time for opening day. But he gave up nine hits and seven runs over 4 1/3 innings to begin the year. That was very different from Bleier’s 1.99 ERA for the 2017 Orioles and the 1.93 he posted until he got hurt last year.
An examination of Bleier’s left shoulder revealed tendinitis that required an injection and an extended rest period before he began a throwing progression. He was placed on the injured list on April 11. Now after four rehab appearances - two each for Single-A Frederick and Double-A Bowie - he is back on the active roster and not next headed for Triple-A, as was the original plan.
“It just seemed like a logical thing (to get activated now) with their lineup and the lefties,” Bleier said this afternoon in the visitors’ clubhouse. “I told (manager Brandon) Hyde that I was feeling good and he said this was a good situation.”
So he was removed from his rehab assignment at Frederick, activated and put back on the Orioles roster as Jimmy Yacabonis was sent back to Norfolk.
“Feeling good. Looking forward to getting back out there and competing and helping the team,” Bleier said. “I just think that health and recovery and how my shoulder was recovering wasn’t there, and it’s there now. So I just feel like I was pitching around my shoulder and now I feel like I’m competitively pitching.”
Bleier said he would like to show the new O’s management what he can do, even though they undoubtedly know his track record. They haven’t really seen what he is capable of yet.
“Honestly, no (they haven’t seen my best). I didn’t do well when I was here,” he said. “So I definitely would like to show them firsthand the results I can get.”
And when Bleier saw what he needed to see in his recent rehab games, he was ready to rejoin his Orioles teammates. He threw three scoreless innings his last three rehab games, and his most recent game action was a scoreless inning Tuesday for the Keys.
“I was getting some swings and misses on the fastball and getting the results I was looking for on the fastball,” he said. “And just recovering. I did a back-to-back Friday and Saturday, so I recovered from that and was able to pitch the second day. Before, I was throwing so much just trying to get my shoulder loose, and now I just feel like I am back to normal and can do my regular routine.”