Spring training is nearly here. And the Baltimore Orioles await in the bomb bay of the high-flying Baltimore Ravens.
Fresh from a return to prominence, Baltimore’s birds look to do significant damage to big league foes in 2013.
In order to do so, however, the Orioles must be consistent. Equally key, the team must remain healthy.
While the majority of players on this team are ready to rock for spring training, some fans wonder what the status is of players who could end up being X-factors this season.
In this slideshow, I will provide fans a health check of five key Orioles players.
Baltimoreans will never forget that Saturday night last September, when New York Yankees lefty CC Sabathia struck Nick Markakis in his thumb with a pinpoint inaccurate fastball.
Wind left the sails of Orioles fans, as Markakis disappeared into the darkness of Baltimore’s dugout.
Markakis later returned with a brace around his left hand, as Orioles fans wondered if this club’s magical run had snapped along with Markakis’ thumb.
Five months later, the injury to Markakis’ thumb is but a distant memory. According to Brittany Ghiroli of MLB.com, the six-year veteran has not only fully recovered, but he has already reported to Baltimore’s spring training complex in Sarasota, Florida.
Markakis is a go for spring training.
Joining Markakis in Sarasota is second baseman Brian Roberts.
The 35-year-old inspired Orioles fans last season when he returned from what looked like a potential career-ending concussion.
Roberts’ run would not last long, however. His comeback tour came to a halt when a hip injury forced him to miss the rest of the season.
But for Roberts' fans there is good news.
In the same report on Markakis, Ghiroli also reported Roberts looks fully recovered and looks full go for spring training.
Orioles' top-of-the-rotation starter Jason Hammel battled knee injuries nearly the entire 2012 campaign.
But per MASN writer Roch Kubatko, Hammel is 100 percent healed and ready to go for spring training.
I was a little scared after the season because things were still stiff. Finally, I was able to rest. I think that was the big key. You can’t really heal if you don’t have time to rest. It took about two weeks for the swelling and any fluid to subside, and then it was just a slow, gradual building back into a lifting process. As of right now, I’m doing normal workouts like I was doing before the injury.
For Orioles fans this is great news. Hammel will play a critical role in Baltimore’s ability to compete in what is shaping up to be a fierce AL East.
Thanks to an injury to his throwing elbow in spring training last season, Japanese left-hander Tsuyoshi Wada has not yet fully healed.
Per Drew Silva (via NBC Sports), Wada was recovering nicely from Tommy John Surgery.
This status check was as of last December.
However, late Thursday Kubatko reported Wada is not expected to return until May or June.
Accentuating the positive, the Orioles have a slew of starting pitchers that will be competing for spots in the team’s rotation.
Still, it will be interesting to see how things shape up once Wada does finally return.
More good news for the Baltimore Orioles: Outfielder Nolan Reimold is also fully healthy and good to go for spring training, (also reported by Kubatko).
Reimold got off to a scorching start to the 2012 season, only to fall to a season-ending neck injury.
At the time of the injury, Reimold was batting .313, with five home runs and 10 RBI in 16 games.
Many Orioles fans are excited for Reimold’s return because they want to see what this guy can do given a full season.
Reimold is an intriguing player because he gives the Orioles an incredible amount of flexibility to do several different things with its lineup each day.