GENEVA – Cougars reliever Eddie Orozco grinned when he called his current stint on the 15-day disabled list a jump on the looming all-star break.
He remained upbeat while discussing the inflammation in his right, throwing, elbow. Orozco knows it won’t keep him sidelined much past next week.
“With the break coming up [Monday],” he said, “it’s a great opportunity to just take care of it now.”
Orozco began feeling slight discomfort in the elbow after throwing a scoreless inning of relief at Burlington in early May.
He was unblemished in his next two outings – against Peoria and at Cedar Rapids – yet his added time with trainer Shane Nelson might have suggested otherwise.
“Depending on if I threw more pitches in one outing than the other, my recovery would be a different feel,” Orozco said. “It took longer for me. Maybe two days instead of just a day to recover, be well.”
Had that pattern surfaced in late August or September, Orozco said, the club likely would have been inclined to have him pitch through it and wait for the offseason to recover.
As it is, Orozco is eager to improve on his 4.87 ERA over 201/3 innings and 17 appearances. His teammates want him to get back in the groove, too. Orozco may be cheerful enough now, but a spot on the active roster should bring a significant morale boost.
“It’s kind of hard talking to someone on the DL,” said all-star right fielder Bijan Rademacher, who recently returned from knee soreness. “I mean, it’s so hard to watch people play and not be able to help the team win. It’s kind of one thing where you’ve got to let some time pass. Let him think about it. Let him settle down. Let the emotions kind of go by the wayside. And then you talk to him and see how he’s feeling.”
Like most of his teammates, Orozco cites adjusting to his first full professional season as the biggest challenge.
A starter at California-Riverside – where he completed four of his 14 starts and had a 2.84 ERA in 2012 – he figures the strength in his 6-foot-4, 220-pound frame will steer him through an extra two months of games.
Getting a grip on the league – and his change-up – while working in more consistent weather helped Orozco settle in before his injury. Once he returns, he knows it’s about maximizing his outings and making sure he recovers before the next one comes.
“You’ve got to just let it go every time you get an opportunity to go out there. You don’t really hold anything back,” Orozco said. “You’re only out there for one, two, three innings, tops. So, you have enough stamina and endurance to go out there and just let it go for that long.
“We get the necessary rest that we need, and we’re fine.”
• Kevin Druley is a sportswriter for the Kane County Chronicle. He can be reached at 630-845-5347 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Third baseman Jeimer Candelario entered Wednesday batting .429 (18 for 42) in June, compiling six multihit games in 10 starts. Candelario, an undrafted free agent in his third season in the Cubs organization, hit .229 in April and .257 in May.
Still the Midwest League co-leader with 12 home runs entering Wednesday, All-Star designated hitter Rock Shoulders was slumping at the plate overall, striking out in 14 of 38 June at-bats while batting .211 this month.
Wisconsin right-hander Damien Magnifico isn’t just a member of many observers’ unofficial all-name team, he’s one of three Timber Rattlers pitchers to represent the Western Division as All-Stars. Magnifico, who is projected to start Sunday against the Cougars, is 5-1 with a 3.83 ERA and 46 strikeouts in 54 innings. His fastball routinely tops 100 mph.
Relievers can empathize with righty Shawn Camp, a member of the parent Cubs who is rehabbing a strained right big toe with the Cougars. “I feel like it would hurt pretty bad,” Justin Amlung said. “I’ve pitched with a sprained right ankle before. In college you just tape it up and go at it.” ... Camp spaced one hit and one strikeout while throwing an inning of scoreless relief Tuesday. He’s set to pitch two innings in Friday’s game against Wisconsin before rejoining the Cubs in St. Louis. ... Give me one current Cougar for a former one: A trade late Tuesday night between the Cubs and Washington Nationals sent Kane County righty Ian Dickson to Washington for righty Henry Rodriguez, who pitched for the Cougars in 2007.
– Kevin Druley, email@example.com
LEADERS IN THE KANE COUNTY COUGARS CLUBHOUSE
BATTING AVERAGE Bijan Rademacher, .324 Jeimer Candelario, .278 Dan Vogelbach, .272
HOME RUNS Rock Shoulders, 12 Dan Vogelbach, 11 Willson Contreras, 6
RBIs Dan Vogelbach, 43 Rock Shoulders, 39 W. Contreras/O. Zapata, 24
STOLEN BASES Marco Hernandez, 9 Oliver Zapata, 8 Gioskar Amaya, 7
ERA Nathan Dorris, 2.33 Jeffry Antigua, 2.78 Felix Pena, 2.95
WINS Pierce Johnson, 4 4 players with 3