Chris Ray Eyes Baltimore Orioles' Closer Role

Shaun CopseyCorrespondent IMarch 20, 2009

FORT LAUDERDALE, FL - FEBRUARY 26: Chris Ray #37 of the Baltimore Orioles pitches against the St Louis Cardinals during a spring training game at Fort Lauderdale Stadium on February 26, 2009 in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. (Photo by Rob Tringali/Getty Images)

Before being faced with a serious elbow injury, Chris Ray was locked in as the O's closer, and deservedly so. At age 24, Chris went on to post a 2.73 ERA and record 33 saves. 

It wasn't until the following season in 2007 that something peculiar began happening. 

Chris lost his dominance, but being the warrior that he is, kept on insisting nothing was wrong. Despite having discomfort in his elbow, even taking drugs to ease the swelling and null the pain, Chris still insisted he felt fine.

Ultimately, management decided on July 25 it was time to put Ray on the disabled list. 

A few more weeks of throwing and more pain, and by Aug. 16, it was time for ligament replacement surgery.

Now, just two short seasons later, would you have expected Orioles' manager Dave Trembley have this to say regarding Ray? "He has exceeded what we had expected as far as results are concerned this early in camp."

Three pitching appearances later, I wonder what Trembley is saying now.  Chris Ray remains perfect through spring training.

Given the thirty teams in major league baseball, only nine of them have a pitcher with as many or more innings pitched who has allowed a total of zero earned runs through camp.

There's only one difference: None of them just came off of reconstructive Tommy John elbow surgery.

Don't tell that to Chris Ray—whose goal of re-fortifying his position as the Orioles' closer becomes more evident with each pitch.