Orioles' Patton Can't Finish Bullpen Session

"It hurt enough to where I didn't want to throw," said Troy Patton, acquired from Houston in the Miguel Tejada trade.
"It hurt enough to where I didn't want to throw," said Troy Patton, acquired from Houston in the Miguel Tejada trade. (By Rob Carr -- Associated Press)
By Marc Carig
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, March 3, 2008

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla., March 2 -- Troy Patton's chance to pitch this season grew slimmer on Sunday when stiffness and discomfort in his troublesome left shoulder forced him to end a bullpen session after just 10 pitches.

"We shut down the sideline session," Baltimore Orioles Manager Dave Trembley said. "He just couldn't get loose."

Patton, 22, is scheduled to undergo an MRI exam by orthopedic surgeon John Wilckens on Monday. The team intends to decide shortly afterward whether Patton will continue his quest to pitch through what's believed to be a tear in his labrum, or if he will undergo surgery that would end his season.

"It's safe to say this is a setback," Trembley said.

Patton was one of five players acquired from the Houston Astros in a December trade for shortstop Miguel Tejada. Although he knew of the shoulder problem, Orioles President Andy MacPhail said that Patton showed too much potential to pass up. But the Orioles could be forced into what MacPhail called the worst possible scenario for Patton -- season-ending surgery.

"I'm not going to rush to any conclusions," said Patton, who has been limited in his throwing since arriving in camp. "I'm just going to go and listen to what [the doctor] tells me to do. I'll know a lot more tomorrow."

Added Patton, "I would like to not miss the season."

Patton was 0-2 with a 3.55 ERA in three games for the Astros last season, when he looked confident despite his age while making his major league debut. A ninth-rounder in 2004, he allowed opponents to hit just .213 last season while yielding four walks in 12 2/3 innings. But the Astros shut down Patton because of elbow problems.

After he was acquired by the Orioles, Patton visited with doctors who agreed that the stiffness and general weakness in his shoulder had a 90 percent likelihood of being a labrum tear.

Patton said doctors encouraged him to try pitching through the injury before considering surgery. The Orioles had hoped that Patton would be strong enough to compete for the team's open rotation spot.

"I think I went on record saying that I was not opposed if he showed he could get hitters out and pitch at the major league level, we were going to give him that opportunity," Trembley said.

"Think that's what I said and I think we might have to move away from that now depending on what we find out tomorrow from Dr. Wilckens. But it's looking more and more like that."

The Orioles gave Patton an extra day of rest, pushing his bullpen session from Saturday to Sunday, but he began to feel even more stiffness and discomfort early in his session. It was the first throwing session that Patton cut short.

"It was uncomfortable enough to where I didn't want to pitch on the mound," he said. "It hurt enough to where I didn't want to throw."

Trembley said the team is ready to continue the fifth starter competition.

"If you've been following what we've been doing, we've already prepared ourselves for that," said Trembley, who has scheduled the daily rotations to ensure that other candidates for the fifth starter spot have had chances to pitch. "And if you see how the pitching lines up in the next week or so, I think we've done our homework for that. We had plan A, we had plan B."

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