Myriad O's thoughts: Rickard out until September is tough blow; Bundy passes test; O'Day's return key - BaltimoreBaseball.com

Dan Connolly

Myriad O’s thoughts: Rickard out until September is tough blow; Bundy passes test; O’Day’s return key

Rookie outfielder Joey Rickard has been a solid part of this club’s success in 2016.

And now he won’t play with it again until September. Given Rickard’s skills set – defense, speed and an ability to get on-base — that’s a pretty big blow, despite his inexperience in the big leagues.

“Joey’s been a big contributor for us and will be again,” Orioles manager Buck Showalter said. “It’ll come at a time of need. It will be a nice September addition.”

Rickard did ligament damage to his right thumb while hitting the outfield wall in the first inning at Yankee Stadium on Wednesday. He played the rest of the game, and didn’t know the extent of the injury until Thursday. Though he won’t require surgery, he’ll be shelved four to six weeks, Showalter said Friday night.

“Unfortunately, because of the way you have to splint it and everything – it doesn’t require surgery – you’ve got to be very careful. I know I try to be about saying this guy had this injury and it took this long, because each one of these things are different,” said Showalter, who added that Rickard’s thumb was black and blue Friday. “You put it in the splint, immobilize and then you have to deal with the non-use of it, the atrophy or whatever. So it’s not like 4-6 weeks he’s a player, but we feel like he’s a guy that can join us in September if everything goes well with the rehab.”

Rickard was hitting .268 with five homers in 85 games. A Rule 5 pick from Tampa Bay, he had an outstanding spring, was the club’s Opening Day left fielder and reached base safely in his first 14 big league games. He slowed as the season went on and, ultimately, ended up in a platoon with Hyun Soo Kim.

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But when Kim was put on the DL on Tuesday, it looked like Rickard would get a major increase in playing time. Kim (hamstring) could return from the DL as early as Tuesday and Showalter said the Korean outfielder was feeling better Friday. Meanwhile, Julio Borbon and Dariel Alvarez will be in line for more starts.

Kim’s return certainly will help, but Rickard’s absence will be felt when it comes to the club’s quality depth. One good thing, though. He has logged enough big-league time to satisfy the Rule 5 requirements, so that clock won’t restart next year. The Orioles, if desired, will be able to send him to the minors in 2017 without the potential of losing him to waivers.

Bundy experiment passes next test

I’m on record as saying I didn’t like the idea of moving 23-year-old rookie Dylan Bundy from the bullpen to the starting rotation this year, no matter how much help the club needs in that area.

I still have concerns long-term that the club has moved too fast with their best pitching talent after years of injuries.

But, hey, it sure looked like the right move Friday night.

Making his first start at Camden Yards and second in the big leagues, Bundy was excellent through five innings, allowing five hits and one unearned run against a really good Cleveland Indians team. The former first-rounder struck out five batters and didn’t walk any, earning his first victory as an Orioles starter after getting two this year in relief.

Bundy threw a career-high 87 pitches, 55 strikes. That’s probably still a little too inefficient to go really deep into a game, but it’s a pace that would get him to about 105 through six innings, and the Orioles would take that nearly every day from their starters.

Showalter said before Bundy’s start that it’s possible that he stays in the rotation for the rest of the year despite having his innings capped at an undisclosed number (which may have changed as the season has progressed).

“It could be, if (Showalter) said so. You know, that’s not up to me,” Bundy said about his role. “I’m just going to keep pitching whenever I’m supposed to, and that can all work itself out at the end of the year.”

The club is going to be careful with Bundy – he is an important part of the future – but if he continues at this pace and can routinely get into the sixth inning, that would be a huge boost for the club.

O’Day pitches one scoreless at Bowie

The Orioles look like they’ll soon be getting an integral part of their bullpen – team, really – back soon.

Right-hander Darren O’Day, who has been on the disabled list since June 3 with a hamstring strain, made his first rehab assignment Friday at Double-A Bowie.

He started the game, faced four batters, allowed one soft single and struck out two. He threw 16 pitches, 11 for strikes. And came out of the game.

The best guess is O’Day will be activated for either Sunday or Monday.

“One inning, went well. Felt good,” Showalter said of O’Day. “We’re gonna have a discussion (Friday night) about what’s the next step there.”

Brad Brach has done a great job as the club’s primary set-up man, but having O’Day back gives the Orioles a 1-2-3 punch with closer Zach Britton. Plus, O’Day is good against lefties, something the bullpen has struggled with while he’s been on the shelf.

Loving the minors

By the way, O’Day and the rest of the Baysox wore funky, sparkly uniforms in honor of late musician/showman David Bowie. The club temporarily changed its pronunciation from Booo-eee to Bowe-eee for the night and played Bowie music throughout the game. The uniforms are being auctioned for charity.

Brilliant.

In my next life, I’m coming back as a minor league promotions guy.

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