October 5, 2022

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Rutschman's return to game action? 'Very soon'

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Keeping tabs on MLB's No. 2 prospect
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Rutschman’s return to game action is “very soon” (April 17)
Speaking to play-by-play voice Kevin Brown on the MASN broadcast, Orioles executive vice president and general manager Mike Elias said on April 15 that Adley Rutschman‘s return to game action could be “very soon.” The club will want Rutschman (right triceps strain) to return to full baseball activities — “normal, everyday play” — before he sees game action with a Minor League affiliate, but his rehab at extended Spring Training in Florida is going “very smoothly.”

Once Rutschman lands with an affiliate, the focus will be on regaining his timing. After that’s accomplished, a much-anticipated debut won’t be far off.

“Once we see that [he’s] back to the player we had at the beginning of Spring Training, when he has poised to impact the roster — I think that’s all going to happen very quickly,” Elias said. “On a week-to-week basis, we’re going to keep an eye on how it’s going with him, and the sooner he gets back into his timing, I think the sooner he’s going to make the team. He’s doing very well in coming back from the injury, and he was looking better than ever prior to the injury. It was just really as bad of timing as you can have.”

Rutschman has advanced to taking batting practice off coaches, a continuation of his hitting progression. Throwing remains in progress, too, but that appears to be a more fickle progression given the nature of the right triceps strain that impacts his elbow. — Zachary Silver

Rutschman continues to progress, taking part in coach BP (April 13)
Without much in the way of a firm update on Adley Rutschman, and without a concrete timeline update, Orioles manager Brandon Hyde did reveal that Rutschman has progressed to taking batting practice off coaches at the Orioles’ facilities in Florida, marking a step forward from the tee work he had been doing as of last update. Rutschman continues the overall progression from the right triceps strain he sustained at the outset of Spring Training, continuing with the cautious approach the club has laid out for him.

“Improving every day, swinging the bat, taking coaches’ BP, doing the throwing progression,” Hyde said. “All that’s going extremely well.”

Next for Rutschman would be facing live pitching, and then getting into some sort of game action. The Orioles have not provided a timeline for such developments, but executive vice president and general manager Mike Elias said before Opening Day that the hope would be for Rutschman to get into some sort of games before the end of April. That would take place at a Minor League affiliate, and it remains to be seen if that’s immediately at Triple-A Norfolk, where Rutschman was slated to start the season, or at a lower-level affiliate.

Rutschman was placed on the injured list at Norfolk in recent days, but that was a paper move more than a concrete signal of his progression. — Zachary Silver

Elias: When Rutschman is healthy, MLB debut may not be far away (April 7)
Speaking with reporters ahead of Opening Day in St. Petersburg, Orioles executive vice president and general manager Mike Elias said that Adley Rutschman had “an inside track to make the team” before the right triceps strain shut him down at the outset of Major League Spring Training.

That serves as the strongest indicator from the organization yet on Rutschman’s standing when it comes to his much-awaited debut. But even more encouraging was the tenor Elias used later.

“As soon as he kind of returns to being a full-activity version of himself, and we understand that his timing’s back, I think he’s going to pick right back up where he left off, which was with a very clear shot to impact this team,” Elias said.

That seems to infer that Rutschman’s debut could come shortly after he returns to full health. The 24-year-old top prospect has only recently resumed full baseball activities after a two-plus week shutdown that started in mid-March. Rutschman remains rehabbing in at extended Spring Training in Florida with others, and once he is cleared for game action will be ramped up at a Minor League affiliate.

And Camden Yards could soon come calling.

“It really stinks that that happened, but it could have been worse,” Elias said from the O’s Minor League facilities in Twin Lakes, Fla. “He’s doing well. He was here working out today and things continue to be on a smooth upward path. But we still have some benchmarks to check before sending him out to affiliated play.” — Zachary Silver

Rutschman ruled out for Major and Minor League Opening Day (April 3)
Adley Rutschman‘s long awaited return to baseball activities has taken place, but the top prospect will need to wait longer than Opening Day for a return to game action, executive vice president and general manager Mike Elias said. That goes for Major League Opening Day on Friday and Triple-A’s on Tuesday. More >

Rutschman’s catching workouts hit the main field (March 31)
Adley Rutschman is yet to throw or swing a bat in his return from a right triceps strain, but his resumption of light catching activities appeared to take a step forward on March 31. Before the club traveled to Bradenton, Fla., Rutschman was on the field at Ed Smith Stadium in full catching gear, receiving relay throws from outfielders at home plate. Rutschman had been said to resume catching some pitchers on the back fields, but he did not throw on Thursday.

The club has promised a cautious approach in returning Rutschman to baseball activities after he sustained the injury on March 11 (which was then unveiled on March 16). The prognosis then was a two-week shutdown from throwing and hitting, which would have pegged him for some sort of return to full activities by the end of March, but that hasn’t appeared to take place quite yet. Instead, time is ticking for Rutschman to get into a Grapefruit League game before camp breaks on April 6, let alone be ready for Triple-A Opening Day on April 5. — Zachary Silver

Rutschman (right triceps) taking part in catching workouts (March 25)
Still about a week away from any formal baseball activities, Adley Rutschman (right triceps strain) has resumed some catching workouts as he attempts to keep his lower body in shape, manager Brandon Hyde said. That’s been limited to receiving baseballs, Hyde said, no throwing, hitting or anything to test his right arm. But it’s a good sign that he is progressing in the right direction.

The club is hopeful that whenever Rutschman does resume full baseball activities, the ramp-up won’t be as long. Since he’s not on the 40-man roster, Rutschman took part in Minor League camp prior to the start of Grapefruit League action where he faced live pitching in intrasquad action, so there’s optimism he’ll come back from the injury still sharp. But the club will exert extreme caution in bringing him back to game speed, now likely to start the year in the Minors before a callup. The biggest question is if he’ll be ready for Triple-A Opening Day on April 5. — Zachary Silver

Elias not ready to rule out Rutschman for start of year (March 23)
The good news is that Adley Rutschman continues to improve from the right triceps injury that sidelined him right when Major League camp opened. The even better news is that executive vice president and general manager Mike Elias was not ready to rule out his top prospect for the start of the Minor League season on April 5.

Rutschman is still shut down from baseball activities, but he could resume some of his progressions before the end of March. Even so, it’s incredibly unlikely the O’s will usher him straight to the big leagues for his debut — something that was far from certain even before his injury. But it’s positive that starting the year on time remains a possibility.

“If this dissipates rapidly, we want him out there,” Elias said. “… I know he’s really bummed that this happened literally right when the big leaguers were showing up, but we’re taking the long view with him.”

Still, the timing of this injury, given that Rutschman appears on the verge of his callup and that it came right when Major League camp was set to open, is unfortunate. Rutschman got plenty of ramp-up activity during Minor League camp, but the club will want him to get enough in-game experience before any sort of callup. There’s little thought that the early, extended action Rutschman got in Florida led to this injury.

“He was really playing his ass off in the early camp, so the timing of this stinks,” Elias said. “… Now we’re in the process of letting that fully calm down and flush out before we put him back out there. But obviously, it’s something that we’re going to be professional about doing the right thing and pacing properly. But he is trending well. … I think it’s more weeks and days still with with regard to him joining game action.” — Zachary Silver

Rutschman (triceps) progressing well, remains on same track (March 21)
While top prospect Adley Rutschman has yet to resume any baseball activities, he’s progressing well in this period of rest as he recovers from the right triceps strain he endured at the outset of camp. Manager Brandon Hyde said that Rutschman, while yet to throw or hit (as expected), is feeling better and focusing on lower-body conditioning. Rutschman has been more present around the team, on-field for some Grapefruit League game warmups, but hasn’t strayed from simply shagging balls thrown into the infield.

“Making a lot of progress,” Hyde said. “Happy with how it’s coming along. … Strength guys are really happy with the progress he’s making.”

While all positive, the news does not change Rutschman’s initial timeline, which was prescribed as a two-week period of rest and then a third week that will restart some of his hitting, throwing and catching progressions in the March 28-30 timeframe. It was far from a certainty that Rutschman would make the Opening Day lineup before the injury, and this flare-up, despite its progress, seems to make it so the focus is more on health for the Minor League season, though his debut could very possibly be delayed there, too. — Zachary Silver

Rutschman (triceps) unlikely for Opening Day (March 16)
Appearing to be on the brink of his highly anticipated Major League debut, Adley Rutschman will likely have to wait until after Opening Day, as a right triceps strain at the outset of big league camp has instead resulted in a two- to three-week shutdown from baseball activities. The catcher’s injury stems from a Friday intrasquad game among O’s Minor Leaguers, after which he showed up to the facilities with some discomfort on Saturday. Further testing in the week that followed revealed a strain to his triceps muscles, though no structural damage was found.

Even in a best-case scenario, it’s unlikely for Rutschman to be physically ready for Opening Day, with at least two weeks between him and baseball activities, which would then leave only one more week to ready himself. At that, Rutschman was an early report to Florida, but he is yet to face pitchers from outside the organization this spring, and given some of the tepidness about his likelihood for the big league roster injury notwithstanding, his chances at this juncture appear minimal.

It’s a tough blow for the consensus top prospect in baseball, who shined in his first pro season in 2021 and finished at Triple-A Norfolk, now taking part in his third consecutive big league camp. His past acclaim and future hopes suggest it’s a hurdle not overly burdensome for the 24-year-old.

“I think it’s an extremely small blip for a guy that’s going to have a long career,” said manager Brandon Hyde. “I’m looking forward to when he’s healthy to be out there. He makes us better. We’ll see. I just want him to get healthy.” — Zachary Silver

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