BALTIMORE—As the Orioles continue to search outside the organization for starting pitching, the top arm in their system will remain on the shelf for the entire 2013 season.
Righthander Dylan Bundy had Tommy John ligament-reconstructive surgery on his right elbow on June 27 after a second MRI revealed a small tear. Renowned orthopedist Dr. James Andrews handled the procedure in Gulf Breeze, Fla.
Bundy, the fourth overall pick in the 2011 draft, sought a second opinion from Andrews after Orioles orthopedist Dr. John Wilckens examined him the previous day.
The No. 2 prospect in the game entering the season, Bundy was supposed to begin the year in the Double-A Bowie rotation, but he hasn’t pitched since spring training after being diagnosed with right flexor mass tightness in the area where the forearm meets the elbow.
An MRI taken three months ago came back clean, and Andrews administered a platelet-rich plasma (PRP) injection on April 29 and recommended that Bundy be shut down for six weeks. During a followup visit, Bundy was cleared to begin a throwing progression on June 10 at the Ed Smith Stadium facility in Sarasota, Fla., where the Orioles train.
Bundy extended the flat-ground distance to 120 feet before again experiencing discomfort in his arm on June 24. He flew to Baltimore the following day to visit with Wilckens, which led to his exam by Andrews and the subsequent surgery.
The normal recovery time for Tommy John surgery is one year.
“The thinking was that Dylan is 20 years old, he’s very young and it’s early in his career, and after giving it two times of rest and significant rest, and the elbow not responding and being capable of handling the workload required, the doctors and Dylan decided this was the best course,” Orioles executive vice president Dan Duquette said.
“I don’t know about the exact history of the prognosis of the elbow, but I do know in these cases, when you have strain on the flexor mass, that’s an indication that the elbow is not capable of handling the workload or withstanding the stress of pitching. In some cases, I understand if the pitcher is very strong, the elbow could be compromised and the flexor mass would take over and the pitcher would be able to pitch capably. I think there are some pitchers in the big leagues like that—but that is not the case with Dylan."
Duquette said the tear was caused by “the stress of pitching.”
“The significant stress put on the elbow from the throwing motion, and this is the response,” he said.
Bundy made two relief appearances for the Orioles last season, allowing a hit and walking a batter in 1 2/3 scoreless innings. He went 9-3, 2.08 with 119 strikeouts in 103 2/3 innings at three levels of the farm system in 2012, topping out at Bowie.
Bundy hasn't granted any interviews, but he provided an update on surgery via Twitter: “Surgery went well, thank you all for prayers! Can’t wait to start this process and get back out there!!!!!’
The Orioles expect Bundy, a workout fanatic, to approach his rehab with the necessary effort.
“Dylan’s a hard worker and he’s very stubborn,” Duquette said. “He has some really good qualities to be a good pitcher. The rehab is a challenge because you’ve got to go through different progressions and stages. It’s important that he work closely with the therapist, but I’m sure Dylan’s up to the task of rehab.”