Injuries have plagued Koji Uehara since the Orioles signed him back in January 2009. In his rookie season, he appeared in only 12 games, all as a starter, and compiled a 2-4 record and a 4.05 ERA. Last season, Koji made the move to the bullpen, mostly as a closer, and appeared in 43 games and posted a career-high 13 saves. He also lowered his ERA from 4.05 as a starter to 2.86 as a reliever. Considering how effective he was last season in the bullpen, I think it’s safe to say that Koji has found his niche at the big league level. Now it’s all about if he can stay healthy for an extended period of time.
His right elbow is what has kept him out of so many games over the past few seasons, but hopefully he won’t miss any significant time with it this season. The 35-year-old right-hander received a cortisone injection in his elbow a few days ago, but said he wasn’t concerned about it and expected to be able to pitch “within a week.” Hopefully he’s right because the O’s are going to need him this season to sure up the back end of their bullpen.
Although, it’s not known if Koji or the newly acquired Kevin Gregg will be the O’s permanent closer this season, but it’s certainly a good problem to have. I think Gregg will probably end up getting the job with Koji being more of a setup man. Either way, Koji needs to worry about staying healthy more than anything because if he can’t do that, none of this even matters.
Submitted by Steve Giles