Oriole fans might have to wait longer to see top pitching prospect Grayson Rodriguez in a major league uniform after the 22-year-old right-hander left Wednesday night’s start against the Jacksonville Jumbo Shrimp with discomfort in his right lat.
Rodriguez was cruising on a hot night in Norfolk, allowing just two hits in 5 2/3 innings before leaving the mound abruptly with the Tides’ trainer and sending a shiver through the Orioles’ organization and its fan base.
There had been speculation that he might be joining the big league club soon, perhaps making his next scheduled start against the Chicago Cubs in the final series of the Orioles’ current homestand or during the club’s next homestand in mid-June. The severity of the lat issue is not yet known, but the front office already has been in no rush to get him up to the majors and will likely handle this situation very conservatively.
The lat muscle is below the shoulder blade and – as an important core component – plays a major role in pitching mechanics. It is the same area that dogged left-hander John Means at multiple junctures early in his career. The Orioles have to hope that Rodriguez suffered a heat-related cramp and not a nagging injury that impacts a significant chunk of his season.