FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. (AP) -Troy Patton ended his side session Sunday after throwing just 10 pitches, a setback that forced the Baltimore Orioles to schedule another examination on the left-hander's ailing shoulder to determine if he should be shut down.
The 22-year-old Patton made three starts with the Houston Astros last season before being sidelined in September with left biceps tendinitis. He came to Baltimore along with four players in a December trade for Miguel Tejada, and was promptly labeled the front-runner for the fifth spot in the starting rotation.
But Patton has experienced stiffness in his shoulder at camp this spring and has been limited to working on the sideline while his teammates have been playing in exhibition games. Doctors think Patton has a possible slap tear in his labrum, although an MRI last month was inconclusive.
Patton hoped a solid side session Sunday would get him back on track, but he never got comfortable and was forced to walk off the mound earlier than expected.
``It's safe to say this is a setback,'' manager Dave Trembley said.
Said Patton: ``It was uncomfortable enough to where I didn't want to pitch on the mound. It hurt enough to where I didn't want to throw.''
There has been no indication that Patton will be able to pitch effectively with his shoulder in its current condition, but he wasn't ready to write off that possibility - at least not before his scheduled examination Monday by Dr. John Wilckens, the team orthopedist.
``I'm not going to rush to any conclusions,'' Patton said. ``I don't know that I'm shut down for the season or for any amount of time. I'm not frustrated at all. I've just got to see the doctor and I'll know more after the MRI or whatever he decides to do.''
A ninth-round pick in the 2004 amateur draft, Patton made his major league debut last August after starting the season in Double-A. He went 0-2 with a 3.55 ERA in three games for the Astros, but showed enough potential to grab the attention of Orioles president Andy MacPhail, who insisted Patton be part of Houston's package for Tejada.
Patton entered spring training as the No. 1 candidate to be the fifth starter, ahead of Brian Burres, Hayden Penn, Garrett Olson and Radhames Liz.
``I think I went on record saying that I was not opposed if he showed he could get hitters out and pitch at the major league level, we were going to give him that opportunity,'' Trembley said about Patton. ``We might have to move away from that now depending on what we find out (Monday) from Dr. Wilckens. It's looking more and more like that.''
After Patton's shoulder proved troublesome early in camp, Trembley and the Orioles began thinking it might be wise to count on someone else to fill out the rotation.
``If you've been following what we've been doing, we've already prepared ourselves for that,'' Trembley said. ``And if you see how the pitching lines up in the next week or so, I think we've done our homework for that. We had Plan A, we had Plan B.''
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