Mike Elias couldn’t hide his disappointment when he formally announced that Orioles’ top pitching prospect Grayson Rodriguez is out indefinitely because a strained right lat.
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 multiple times early in his career.
Rodriguez, 22, appeared to be on the fast track to Camden Yards before he suffered the injury in Triple-A Norfolk’s game against Jacksonville on Wednesday night. Rodriguez was cruising before the setback and had thrown 5 2/3 scoreless innings.
“The timing of this stinks,” said Elias, the Orioles’ general manager. “We were watching every start of his very carefully.” Elias didn’t say whether the Orioles had planned to promote Rodriguez after the start, although it appeared he was going to move up soon.
The Orioles brought Rodriguez to Baltimore on Thursday morning to undergo further tests and an MRI, which confirmed the lat strain. Team doctors are assessing the right course of action and the timetable for his rehab.
“The good news is that it’s a lat muscle and not sort of a more shoulder capsule kind of throwing arm-related pathologies you might see,” Elias said. “He’s going to miss some time, probably a decent amount of time at a minimum. We’ll take it from here. It’s something that time should rectify.”
Rodriguez is ranked as the No. 3 overall prospect by Baseball America and was coming off a week in which he was named the International League Pitcher of the Week. He gave up just two hits and struck out 10 in seven scoreless innings in Norfolk’s 5-2 victory over Gwinnett 5-2 on Friday.
Rodriguez is 5-1 with a 2.09 ERA and 0.84 WHIP over 11 starts for the Tides this season.
“It’s an unfortunate timing development for both him and the Orioles, obviously,” Elias said.
Rodriguez will likely rehab at the Orioles’ minor-league complex in Sarasota, Florida.
“It’s certainly a very disappointing development in terms of the 2022 calendar and our hopes and his, but it’s something that we will ultimately get through,” Elias said.