Bleier set to start Class A rehab assignment

May 6th, 2019

BALTIMORE -- The Orioles are much closer to getting one of their most important bullpen pieces back.

Pleased with how the health of his left shoulder has progressed over the past three-plus weeks, returned to the Orioles clubhouse Monday afternoon, if only briefly. Now the left-hander is set to hit the road again.

Bleier is slated to begin a rehab assignment Tuesday at Class A Frederick, where he’ll make multiple appearances with an eye toward climbing the organizational ladder. Bleier estimated he’d need at least five outings before the Orioles would consider activating him from the injured list, a timetable that conservatively pegs his return near the end of the month.

“I’m definitely looking forward to getting back,” Bleier said. “It’s also a process that needs to be seen through, too, and get a few outings under me in affiliated ball before I get back.”

One of the club’s most valuable relievers before suffering a torn lat last June, Bleier has been on the injured list since April 11 due to discomfort he characterized as related to that operation. It was his first setback in more than eight months of rehab that culminated with Bleier breaking camp healthy.

But soreness returned over the season’s first fortnight, during which Bleier allowed seven earned runs over his first four outings -- matching his surrendered output from 31 games in 2018. When he went to the injured list, Bleier expressed concern over how the injury was affecting the shape of his pitches, notably his signature sinker. Comparing how his arm feels now and then, Bleier called it “night and day.”

“I feel like this time my arm is ready to go as opposed to last time, when it was a little bit questionable,” he said.

A healthy Bleier would be a boon for an Orioles bullpen that’s been ravaged by ineffectiveness and turnover in the early going. Baltimore has called on 17 different relievers already, tied with the Mariners for most among Major League clubs. They entered play Monday with an AL-worst 6.11 bullpen ERA.

Bleier owned a 1.97 ERA across 111 career appearances from 2016-2018, third among full-time Major League relievers in that span.

Also from the trainer’s room

• Bleier said his recovery was aided by fellow rehabber , who provided valuable feedback as Bleier’s throwing partner at the club’s Sarasota, Fla., complex. Bleier said that between throwing sessions, Trumbo has also begun hitting in the cage.

That’s a noted step in the recovery for the slugger, who underwent right knee surgery last September. Trumbo tested his knee in six games this spring before briefly suspending baseball activities to focus on strengthening it. He is currently on the 60-day injured list.

• Orioles manager Brandon Hyde did not have an update on right-hander , who sought a second opinion on his right forearm soreness Monday afternoon. Karns, who missed most of the past two seasons due to arm injuries, has been on the injured list since April 9.

Welcome to town

• The Orioles welcomed two of the newest members of their sports neighbors on Monday, tabbing recent Baltimore Ravens draft selections Marquise “Hollywood” Brown and Jaylon Ferguson to throw Monday’s ceremonial first pitches.

Brown, the Ravens’ first-round pick out of Oklahoma, and Ferguson, the team’s third-round selection out of Louisiana Tech, donned custom Orioles jerseys and received a welcome from Trey Mancini during their afternoon at Camden Yards.