The Orioles suffered their first freak injury of spring training Saturday when outfielder Michael Bourn was diagnosed with a broken right ring finger suffered while catching a football after Friday’s workout in Sarasota.
Less than one week after signing a minor league deal with the Orioles, Bourn is expected to miss four weeks, Orioles manager Buck Showalter said, putting his status for Opening Day in question.
Showalter didn't rule out the possibility of Bourn being ready for the season opener April 3 against the Toronto Blue Jays, but didn't sound overly optimistic.
"If we had to push the envelope, we could if it fell down to that," Showalter said.
The Orioles signed the 34-year-old Bourn to a minor league deal Monday. He would make $2 million if he makes the major league roster. The deal also included a March 27 opt-out clause, which would seem to be impacted by the injury.
"After he got through with the whole workout, like a lot of them do, they were throwing the football around and he reach up for it and jammed his finger," Showalter said.
"I was asking Seth Smith [a former quarterback at Ole Miss] if he threw it," Showalter said. "I said, 'Have you guys ever heard of [Tom] Brady and Deflategate? Why don’t you deflate the football a little bit."
Initially, the Orioles thought Bourn had just jammed his finger, but after being re-evaluated by head trainer Richie Bancells on Saturday, an X-ray revealed a break.
Pitchers and catchers reported for duty on Monday, Feb. 13, 2017. The Orioles begin the 2017 season at home against the Toronto Blue Jays on April 3.
Players commonly throw a football around in their spare time – it’s seen as an activity that builds shoulder strength and helps the repetition of arm action – but the risk for injury always exists.
"It’s actually a very useful [practice]," Showalter said. "You see our guys do it. It’s good for the shoulder and the throwing actions. Most teams do it. He just caught it wrong.
"That’s a part of his workout," Showalter added. "For a lot of guys, that’s part of their day. It’s what they do."
Additionally, starting catcher Welington Castillo was scheduled to make his first spring start Saturday afternoon on the road in Bradenton against the Pittsburgh Pirates. But he was scratched with neck spasms, an injury he felt when he woke up Saturday morning.
Castillo was slated to play more often in early spring games because he's slated to leave the club on March 5 to join the Dominican Republic World Baseball Classic team.
"We’ll see what tomorrow brings," Showalter said. "We had to adjust [the lineup]. He was hitting fourth today in the lineup. Was trying to get all those WBC guys up.”
Showalter said Castillo will be re-evaluated Sunday, but is considered day-to-day.
The team was planning on giving him more innings so he could get used to a new pitching staff before his departure and get the at bats he needs in order to prepare for the WBC.
The Orioles were slated to line up innings for Castillo in order for him to get regular looks at Orioles pitchers, but Showalter said missing any time could hurt his adjustment.
Also, outfielder Chris Dickerson fouled a ball off his shin, but was still expected to be able to play in Saturday's game.
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