DL Hall, the Orioles’ top pitching prospect, is returning to Triple-A Norfolk after a month of rebuilding his strength at the team’s complex in Sarasota, Florida.
Hall injured his lower back prior to spring training, and, in order to heal the ailment, had to stop strenuous weightlifting. Hall started the season on time — including making one major league appearance for the Orioles in April — but still was not back to where he was strength-wise before the injury.
He tried to focus on weightlifting while pitching in games but it proved to be too much. His velocity was down to an average of 93.3 mph on his fastball, compared to the 96.2 mph he showcased last year in his brief stint in the majors.
The Orioles tried lowering his workload. Hall threw a season-high 98 pitches on May 10, but did not exceed 61 in his next five outings. Still, his velocity was not where they wanted it to be.
“Both sides were a little frustrated having to do it that way,” general manager Mike Elias said. “We decided to utilize the rules available to us to send him to Florida where he could focus first and foremost on getting the velocity and strength back and not worrying about his box scores.”
Hall arrived in Sarasota in mid-June and did not pitch in a game until July 25. He made another appearance on July 28, his velocity back in the mid-90s. He had one more live batting practice on Tuesday before he was sent to rejoin Norfolk.
He will take on a bullpen role initially.
“I think he’s in a good spot and a better spot than where he started,” Elias said. “He’s very healthy and he’s also very fresh for the second half.”
The news of Hall’s return comes just a few hours before Tuesday’s 6 p.m. trade deadline. Elias, who admitted last week that the team needs pitching, has made just one move — acquiring RHP Shintaro Fujinami from Oakland. If no other moves are made, Hall could be a reinforcement for the Orioles’ overworked bullpen.