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07/24/07 6:14 PM ET
Notes: MRI on Ray reveals bone spur
O's closer's "stiff" arm may keep him out longer than expected
By Geremy Bass / MLB.com
BALTIMORE -- Two days after closer Chris Ray said he couldn't appear in a save situation because his arm was "a little stiff," news came that the injury could be more serious than he initially thought. Baltimore manager Dave Trembley said an MRI of Ray's throwing arm taken on Monday revealed a bone spur, an injury that he has likely been pitching with for an undetermined length of time. Now, Ray is taking anti-inflammatory medications, but Trembley said it's too early to determine whether the injury will be something that sidelines the young right-hander for an extended period of time. "I was told that he's taking this medication, and let's see if this calms it down," Trembley said. "Let's have him come out here tomorrow and play catch and then make a decision to see where he's at." If he still feels pain, Ray will need to have an arthogram, a procedure similar to an MRI where dye is injected to his arm before pictures are taken. A bone spur is an abnormal bone growth that can cause wear-and-tear or pain if it makes contact with other bones or tissues. Pitchers are prone to the malady, as bone spurs usually form in response to pressure, rubbing, or continued stress. Ray's injury is similar to what sidelined young hurler Hayden Penn earlier this season, but to a lesser extent. It doesn't affect his throwing motion or velocity, but Ray began experiencing pain over the weekend. Penn had to have surgery in May and missed more than three months of action before returning to the mound to pitch for the Rookie Gulf Coast League Orioles on Friday. Ray said he is still unsure of the exact nature of his ailment or of any timetable, but knows he needs more time. "It's definitely still a little sore today, so I'll try to give it one more day," Ray said. "I'll see how it feels tomorrow. The last thing I want to do is do something to hurt this team." The 25-year-old has done anything but hurt the Orioles in July. He's appeared in six games for one inning each, allowing no runs and just two hits while earning three saves and a win. The injury came at a time when Baltimore's go-to closer looked to be rectifying his performances after a rocky first-half of the season. Ray surrendered four game-winning home runs and blew four saves through the end of June, just one shy of the five he suffered during all of the 2006 season. He also allowed 21 earned runs in the first three months of the season but gave up just 20 last year. Recent outings have demonstrated a turnaround, however, as Ray has now struck out 11 of the last 23 batters he's faced. Back to baseball: While the news about Ray is not what the Orioles wanted to hear, injured shortstop Miguel Tejada was positive about his progress as he was cleared for baseball activities on Tuesday. Tejada took batting practice before the Orioles' game Tuesday, and Trembley said his superstar shortstop hopes to be back in the lineup for Friday's game against the Yankees. Trembley said Tejada will continue his rehabilitation by playing for Double-A Bowie on Wednesday and Class A Frederick on Thursday. "I talked to Miggy, and if his batting practice goes well and he feels good, there's a very good possibility the next couple days he'll be playing in games," Trembley said. Tejada had played in 1,152 consecutive games before getting hurt, the fifth-longest streak in the Major Leagues, but he has been sidelined since June 21. "It feels fine now," Tejada said. "Now, it's up to the trainer and how it goes this week. I want to get back out there." On the mend: Melvin Mora and Freddy Bynum, who are on the 15-day disabled list, both made steps toward recovery Tuesday. Trembley said Mora, who sprained his foot on a collision at home plate, started running on a treadmill, and Bynum, who's missed 12 games with a strained hamstring, ran on the field. Quotable: "I think the best scenario for the team is to have one guy and then have a backup. [Danys] Baez, [Jamie] Walker and [Paul] Shuey can all do it. I think they're all capable of doing it, but by doing that you take away the strength of your club. You put them in positions that they're not used to, and now who do you fill it with?" -- Trembley, on whether it would be better to have one closer or a committee of relievers if Ray were placed on the DL Up next: The Orioles continue their three-game set against Tampa Bay on Wednesday, when lefty Erik Bedard (9-4, 3.12) and right-hander Andy Sonnanstine (1-5, 5.37) face off in the middle game at Oriole Park.
Geremy Bass is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.