Rutschman 'doing extremely well' in rehab process

April 3rd, 2022

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Slowly but surely, Adley Rutschman is making progress.

The Orioles’ top prospect and baseball's No. 2 overall per MLB Pipeline has resumed hitting and throwing activities, manager Brandon Hyde said before Sunday’s Grapefruit League contest against the Twins at Hammond Stadium. It marked Rutschman’s biggest step forward since a right triceps strain shut him down at the outset of big league camp.

Rutschman is still limited to hitting off a tee -- from both sides -- and light throwing, Hyde said, with no concrete timeline for him to get into game action. However, time would be short for Rutschman to get into a Grapefruit League game before camp breaks on Wednesday, let alone be ready for the Triple-A Norfolk opener on Tuesday.

“Doing extremely well,” Hyde said. “... He's right on track for where we want him to be right now, and now it's just building and recovering.”

Rutschman has not been officially ruled out for either Opening Day, but it would align with the club’s advertised cautious game plan to ease him back to full baseball activities before facing live opponents. Rutschman was an early report to Minor League camp, where he took part in intrasquad scrimmages, but he hasn’t faced an opponent in an official capacity since the end of the last Minor League season.

Rutschman sustained the injury in an intrasquad game on March 11 -- the same game that Heston Kjerstad sustained a left hamstring strain that is expected to sideline him eight to 12 weeks -- although the club is not exactly sure what caused the ailment. Rutschman reported to camp the next day with some soreness in his elbow area, and a scan taken thereafter showed a strain to the triceps region.

The Orioles said on March 16 that Rutschman would be shut down from baseball activities for two to three weeks. Rutschman had taken part in some catching and defensive work prior to Hyde’s announcement on Sunday, but he hadn’t done anything that would test his right elbow area.

But now the momentum for a return to action is building.

A positive development from Hyde is that Rutschman has still all but flatly been ruled out for Opening Day -- in both the Majors and at Triple-A. Even before the injury, it was far from a given that Rutschman would make the Orioles' Opening Day roster for Friday's game against the Rays at Tropicana Field. The club has been gradual in his development and elevating him through the levels, and while it’s been wholly expected that Rutschman will debut at some point in 2022, whenever that day arrives, it will be a storyline of the upcoming campaign.

But Rutschman has been able to continue development away from the field. With Robinson Chirinos slated to be the starting catcher, Rutschman has been present in all catching and appropriate meetings with the pitching staff. During drills, he’s present and onlooking, learning from a catching room that also includes Anthony Bemboom, Jacob Nottingham and Beau Taylor. All are competing for the second catching spot on the roster until Rutschman’s eventual callup.

“In everything we do, he's been involved,” Hyde said. “Maybe not so much from the running of the drill, but he stands there and he's been in every single meeting. Whenever we do any sort of fundamental or anything on the field, he's right there, just not fully involved yet. He's trying to soak in as much as he possibly can without being able to participate.

“He’s antsy, like anybody,” Hyde added. “He's doing everything he can right now.”