Dennis Sarfate’s rehab stint ended last night, and the Orioles are now plotting out the right-hander’s return from a circulatory problem. Sarfate went on the disabled list in early May and has pitched in the Minors for a month as part of his rehabilitation. Now, the right-hander will likely throw a few simulated games until rosters expand in September.
Baltimore manager Dave Trembley said he’s uncertain of the exact plan for Sarfate, but that he’s checked with a higher power and expects an answer within the next few days.
“I’m not sure,” he said. “I’m waiting to hear. I’m not 100 percent sure what the rules are.”
— Spencer Fordin
The Orioles will see a pair of hard-throwing relievers move closer to a full recovery in the next week, as both Dennis Sarfate and Chris Ray work their way back from injury. Ray will pitch for times for Double-A Bowie, and Sarfate will throw four times for Triple-A Norfolk. The Orioles will evaluate both of them at that point, which figures to be shortly after August starts.
“Each guy has got four rehab assignments, and at the end of those four, we’ll re-evaluate,” said manager Dave Trembley. “Hopefully, they’ll both be ready to come join us at that time.”
Baltimore manager Dave Trembley had a little fun at reliever Dennis Sarfate’s expense on Sunday, when he relayed the details of the right-hander’s recovery. Sarfate, who threw in a Minor League game on Saturday, was right back at Camden Yards Sunday.
“I try to send him out on a rehab and he won’t go,” quipped Trembley. “That guy just keeps showing up.”
Sarfate is expected to throw in another Minor League game on Tuesday and may take the rest of the month to work back to full strength. The veteran was originally sidelined with a circulatory condition and is working in the Minor Leagues at 93 mph, which is a shade better than his velocity earlier in the season and a bit below his peak pitch-speed.
Dennis Sarfate got the best possible news regarding his circulatory problem on Friday, when an angiogram revealed that he’s suffering from a “stretch injury” in his middle finger. Sarfate had lost feeling in that digit last week, and there was concern that either a muscle was blocking his arteries or that there was a potentially serious problem going on.
After undergoing the angiogram, though, Sarfate was told that he’ll miss a month or two. And while that might not sound ideal, it is for someone who was considering the rest of his life.
“It’s not career-threatening. It’s not life-threatening,” said manager Dave Trembley. “I would say after a month, he goes on a throwing program. So you can all look at the calendar and see when he’s going to be available. But obviously, he’s not going to be available for us for a while, but the good news is it’s not career-threatening.”
Sarfate wasn’t available for comment on Friday, but he gave a wide-ranging interview on Thursday in which he laid out his long-term concerns about the current injury.
“It’s not really a baseball thing I am worried about. I am worried about not losing a limb,” he said. “The last couple days I’ve been kind of hanging out with my daughter, taking her for walks. Baseball is a great game. I am so thankful to God that I have had the opportunity to play it. But my life and my livelihood — me taking care of my family and all that — is definitely more important. So baseball has been the last thing I have been thinking about.”
If you thought Dennis Sarfate’s relief stint on Tuesday night was impressive enough, consider the context. Sarfate, who threw 3 1/3 scoreless innings in relief, did so with a ear infection and on medication that sorely impaired his ability to focus.
“The stuff that they gave me and the shot I got for the ear infection all kind of combined together,” he said Wednesday. “I was sitting there in the bullpen in the first inning and I don’t even know how I was feeling … Next thing you know, I was on Cloud Nine, just kind of out there. But I knew I had to do something.”
Sarfate said that his teammates could tell he was far from normal, and he also said that he’s happy he’ll have a day off Wednesday to recuperate and prepare for the Boston series.
“They saw me out there on the mound after the first batter I faced and they were like, ‘Are you alright?’ ” he said. “I said, ‘I just want to know what was in that shot.’ So they gave me a granola bar and a banana on the bench to get some sugar in me and see if it would help.”
Alfredo Simon only made it into the second inning on Tuesday before an undisclosed injury knocked him out of the game. Simon gave up three home runs in his brief outing — one each to Michael Young, Nelson Cruz and Chris Davis — before summoning the trainer to the mound. Dennis Sarfate replaced Simon, putting the Orioles in a vulnerable position.
Simon was later diagnosed with discomfort in his right elbow, and he’ll head back to Baltimore to be examined by team physicians on Wednesday. There’s no word yet on whether he’ll miss a rotation turn or be forced onto the disabled list for the foreseeable future.
If you’ve been wondering why most of Baltimore’s best relief pitchers haven’t thrown in a game, the answer has become readily apparent. Manager Dave Trembley said Saturday that he’s tried to get George Sherrill, Dennis Sarfate, Jim Johnson and Jamie Walker extra work on the practice mound, thus pushing back their timetable to pitch in games.
“With the extra week of spring training, all those guys we’ve held back,” he said. “They’ve gotten their work in the back throwing simulated games or batting practice sessions.”
Trembley was also asked to clarify his late relief picture on Saturday, and he reiterated that Sherrill is his closer and that Chris Ray will still get scattered save opportunities.
“I didn’t want Chris Ray to think he was coming into camp and it was a tryout,” he said. “I told George he was the closer on the team but he was not going to get every save opportunity. I did it for both guys. I didn’t want Sherrill to come in here and think he had to hurry up and get out there, and I didn’t want Chris Ray wondering what his role on the club was going to be.”
The Orioles spent the morning taking their physical examinations, which meant a late start to the first workout of the spring. Some more position players arrived — Scott Moore, Justin Turner and Justin Christian among them — as did staff ace Jeremy Guthrie, who took the time to greet the local beat writers and offer a personalized critique on their offseason work.
Guthrie, who still has the same spring locker that he did two seasons ago as a waiver claim, will have a new neighbor in first-round draftee Brian Matusz. Matusz expressed a desire to pick Guthrie’s brain over the spring, and he’ll have a willing test subject.
Another interesting development of the morning was to see the players begin to comply with the team’s facial hair policy, which mandates no hair below the upper lip. George Sherrill and Dennis Sarfate came to camp newly shorn, while Mark Hendrickson, who was unaware of the policy, came with a goattee and had to remove it before he hit the field.