Tagged: Koji Uehara

Baltimore seeking closure on closer

Baltimore manager Dave Trembley spoke at length about his team’s pursuit of a veteran relief ace on Monday, framing it as insurance for his young rotation and a way to get the most out of the returning talent in his bullpen. Trembley said that he’d rather not rely on Jim Johnson or Koji Uehara as his closer, preferring instead to slot them earlier in the game.
“If you don’t get a closer, now you come into Spring Training kind of unsettled again and you might have to take a look at JJ there,” said Trembley, who grew comfortable with Johnson as his setup man. “You might have to take a look at what Chris Ray does. But if you go out and get a closer, then I think you can kind of line up the back end of your bullpen.”
As for Uehara, Trembley said he’s at a bit of a loss. Uehara spent most of his career in Japan as a starter and struggled with hamstring and elbow ailments last year in his stateside transition. Now, Trembley wants to see him healthy before he decides his role.
“To be honest with you, I don’t know what to say about Koji,” he said. “I think you have to see Koji come into Spring Training and see if he’s healthy. I think you’ve got to get him in Spring Training and see if he’s healthy and then decide what’s best for him and where he fits in with the team. It’s hard for me to say right now because he ended the season hurt.”

Uehara, Bergesen workouts

Baltimore manager Dave Trembley said that two of his injured pitchers — Koji Uehara and Brad Bergesen — are progressing in their respective rehab stints at the team’s Minor League complex in Sarasota, FL. Uehara will likely be able to throw off the mound in a couple days, while Bergesen is throwing off flat ground and making slow progress.

Bergesen, who was originally slated to be part of the team’s six-man rotation in September, may not be able to return until late in the month. Uehara, meanwhile, is expected back mid-month and will work out of the bullpen for the remainder of the season.

— Spencer Fordin

Koji creeps closer

Koji Uehara will begin his rehab from a partially torn flexor tendon in his pitching elbow on Wednesday, when he travels to the team’s Minor League complex in Sarasota, Fla. Uehara will begin a throwing program and will point toward a return in early September.

Uehara, who has been sidelined since the end of June, will be making his return as a reliever. And if he thrives there, it may be tough for the Orioles to envision him as anything else. Uehara, at 34 years old, may hold up better in shorter outings than he did in starts.

Koji means relief

Baltimore manager Dave Trembley said that Koji Uehara may be able to start a throwing program soon in order to return from a case of right elbow tendinitis. And when he does return, Trembley said that Uehara will work out of the bullpen for the remainder of the year.

The Orioles hope to have Uehara — the first Japanese player in franchise history — back close to the start of September. And then, instead of working him up to a suitable pitch-count to start, they’ll have him provide an experienced arm in the bullpen for the last month.

Orioles make baseball history

When Brian Matusz won on Tuesday, he became the fifth Baltimore rookie to win his big-league debut this season, a feat unrivaled in modern baseball history. Only one other team — the 1888 Chicago White Stockings, who later became the Cubs — has managed to equal that achievement, giving the Orioles an interesting footnote in the game’s annals.

Koji Uehara, Brad Bergesen, Jason Berken and David Hernandez have also won their debuts this season, and Baltimore had a near-miss in a no-decision for Chris Tillman.

Rookie Matt Wieters, who helped usher Matusz through his debut, had an interesting quip. “That’s when they started baseball,” he said of 1888. “So everybody was debuting.”

Uehara’s brush with fatigue

Koji Uehara termed himself “lucky” for netting a 1-2-3 double play in the fifth inning of Tuesday night’s loss, and he wound up pulling himself from the game early. Uehara told reporters that he spoke to pitching coach Rick Kranitz after the sixth inning due to arm-strain.

“I noticed that the ball was going up,” he said. “And I noticed I really couldn’t put the strength in my arm, so I asked to pull myself out.”

Uehara has been plagued by hamstring problems both in Spring Training and the regular season, and his endurance has been called into question in games that are hot and humid. This, however, represented the first time he has actually pulled himself from the game.

Rookie rotation

The Orioles are set to promote Jason Berken from Triple-A Norfolk to take Tuesday’s starting assignment, a move that will give them three rookies in their starting rotation. Berken will replace Adam Eaton, who was recently released, for an undetermined period of time.

Berken, a former sixth-round draftee, was 2-0 with a 1.05 ERA in his first five starts for Norfolk. The Orioles may also have to replace rookie Koji Uehara, who is suffering from a sore left hamstring, at some point. Baltimore’s two most experienced starters — Jeremy Guthrie and Rich Hill — have combined for a little more than five years of big-league service time.