Comfort zone continues to elude Ray
Righty reliever struggling to regain form after injury
BALTIMORE -- It's not always a straight line from rehabilitation to recovery. Chris Ray is completely healthy after missing a season due to ligament replacement surgery on his right elbow, but he still hasn't been able to find his comfort zone. Ray, a former closer, has worked to a 10.13 ERA in his first 16 games.
Still, as of right now, the Orioles aren't panicking. Manager Dave Trembley expects to keep giving Ray the ball, and he said there haven't really been high-level talks about sending the reliever down to Triple-A Norfolk.
"I don't think there's been extended conversations about that to this point," said Trembley. "It may get to that point, just like it gets to that point with a lot of different situations and a lot of different players. ... There have been more discussions about getting him more work in the bullpen with [pitching coach Rick Kranitz]."
And, in some respects, the concerns regarding Ray are minor. The right-hander is still pumping his fastball in the mid 90's, but he's had problems repeating his delivery consistently. That mechanical flaw has caused Ray's fastball to rise and his breaking pitchers to flatten out in the strike zone, making him more hittable.
Take Saturday afternoon, for instance. Ray got ahead of Anderson Hernandez and wound up giving up an end-of-the-bat base hit. The next hitter, Cristian Guzman, singled through the hole. Baltimore then elected to intentionally walk Ryan Zimmerman and, a few pitches later, Adam Dunn had hit a grand slam off Jamie Walker.
Ray was charged with three earned runs, lifting his ERA to its highest point since the first week of the season.
"He didn't throw the ball that bad yesterday," Trembley said. "You'd like to be able to get the guy's confidence back and put him in some situation against right-handed hitters where he's been a lot more effective, let him start an inning, not bring him in the middle of the inning, let him get some work in, get some outs.
"But, obviously, yesterday, because guys had been used so frequently -- not only in that [Washington] series but going back to the Yankee series -- we really couldn't select opportunities to fit him in."
Spencer Fordin is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.