Bleier leaves with ap­par­ent lat in­jury

Re­liever clearly in pain af­ter mak­ing a pitch in the eighth in­ning

Baltimore Sun - - ORIOLES - By Ed­uardo A. Encina eencina@balt­sun.com twit­ter.com/Ed­dieInTheYard

Richard Bleier’s strong sea­son might have ended Wed­nes­day af­ter­noon when the left-handed re­liever ex­ited abruptly in the eighth in­ning of the Ori­oles’ 5-1 loss to the Bos­ton Red Sox with the mak­ings of a left lat in­jury.

Bleier’s out­ing ended af­ter just five pitches. He en­tered the game with two outs in the sev­enth in­ning and recorded a quick third out. Af­ter throw­ing his first pitch of the eighth in­ning, he hopped off the mound in pain, crouch­ing over while Ed­uardo Núñez grounded out to sec­ond.

Man­ager Buck Showal­ter and ath­letic trainer Mark Spires came out of the dugout to at­tend to Bleier, who clutched his side un­der his throw­ing arm while he walked off the field.

“I just saw him,” Showal­ter said af­ter Wed­nes­day’s game. “It’s got the char­ac­ter­is­tics of a lat, so we’ll see. Hope for the best. Ob­vi­ously, he was in a lot of dis­com­fort, so we’ll see. He never had any­thing like that be­fore. I didn’t get a chance to talk to him for very long. He was pretty down as you can imag­ine.”

Bleier said he planned to have an MRI to­day.

“I just felt some­thing in the lat area, or what­ever. Ob­vi­ously it was un­pleas­ant,” Bleier said. “Just, I don’t know, That’s pretty much it, yeah. … Ob­vi­ously, any in­jury is not good. To get to the point where there was no ques­tion I couldn’t make an­other pitch, that’s ob­vi­ously not good.”

In­juries to the latis­simus dorsi, a large ex­ten­sor mus­cle, can take months to heal. Ori­oles farm­hand Chris Lee suf­fered a lat strain in late-May 2016 that cost him the rest of his sea­son.

Bleier, who has be­come a valu­able mem­ber of the bullpen the past two years since the Ori­oles ac­quired him in a mi­nor trade with the NewYork Yan­kees be­fore the 2017 sea­son, en­tered Wed­nes­day’s game with a 1.97 ERA in 32 in­nings this sea­son.

“We’ll see,” Showal­ter said. “I’m not go­ing to make any di­ag­no­sis. It could be some­thing com­pletely dif­fer­ent than what any of us are think­ing. It’s just real un­for­tu­nate. Richard has been a good pitcher for us. Re­gard­less if he’s been good or not, it’s un­for­tu­nate.”

Bleier en­tered Wed­nes­day lead­ing all Ori­oles re­liev­ers this sea­son with a 0.8 WAR, ac­cord­ing to FanGraphs. He opened the sea­son hav­ing al­lowed just one earned run over his first 17 ap­pear- an­ces span­ning 222⁄ in­nings for a 0.40 ERA. Over his past 13 out­ings, he’s had a 5.79 ERA in 13 ap­pear­ances span­ning 9 1/3 in­nings.

The bullpen reached full strength for this first time this sea­son this week, get­ting back closer Zach Brit­ton, who had missed the en­tire year re­cov­er­ing from a torn Achilles ten­don, and setup man Dar­ren O’Day from the dis­abled list. In the ab­sence of those two im­por­tant late-in­ning arms, Bleier earned more high­lever­age re­lief op­por­tu­ni­ties. And has of­ten been the case this sea­son, Bleier was de­pended on to get outs in two sep­a­rate in­nings Wed­nes­day.

“Ob­vi­ously I knew they were [count­ing on me], es­pe­cially in that sit­u­a­tion where Brad [Brach] had to come in and [ My­chal Givens] had to throw as well,” Bleier said. “I knew they wanted me to get through that in­ning, so, for the other guys, it’s tough. Thank­fully, we have an off day to­mor­row, so it will kind of give ev­ery­body a chance to re­group, but it’s ob­vi­ously not good for every­one and ev­ery­thing’s kind of not go­ing well, so it kind of just com­pounds that.”

KEN­NETH K. LAM/BAL­TI­MORE SUN

Ori­oles re­liever Richard Bleier, right, walks off the field with as­sis­tant trainer Mark Spires af­ter “feel­ing some­thing in the lat area” in the eighth in­ning. Bleier has a 1.93 ERA this sea­son, the best on the ac­tive ros­ter.

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