SARASOTA, Fla. -- There are 29 pitchers in Orioles camp, and only one has yet to throw off a mound, as prospect Brandon Erbe continues to work back from surgery for a torn right labrum in August, a process that has been tedious and often frustrating.
But the 23-year-old, who went 0-10 with a 5.73 ERA in 10 starts with Triple-A Norfolk before being shut down, said Tuesday that he's ready for the rigors ahead -- both mentally and physically.
"This year's going to be difficult," Erbe admitted of a 2011 season he will likely start late. "I'm going to have ups and downs and stuff, but I knew that going in. So hopefully I can get back and get on the right track with my arm and my delivery, because I kind of have to start over."
Starting over is nothing new to Erbe, who retooled his delivery following a dismal 2007 at Class A Advanced Frederick. He had finished 6-8 with a 6.22 ERA in that season, his third professional season, but was averaging nearly five walks for every nine innings pitched.
After working closely with Minor League pitching coordinator Dave Schmidt, Erbe's cleaner new motion drew raves last spring. But it didn't translate into success at Triple-A, and after going on the Minor League disabled list at the end of July, Erbe underwent surgery the following month.
Erbe started doing some light throwing in December and has progressed to being able to throw every other day in camp. As he continues to build up arm strength, Erbe, who probably won't pitch in any Grapefruit League games, is optimistic he can work toward throwing simulated games in extended spring camp and get back to Norfolk without too much delay.
"Hopefully I'll only miss a couple weeks of the actual season," Erbe said. "My goal for this year is to just get back to pitching and to be healthy, and to be able to get back to being able to get into a routine of throwing every five days -- and doing all my stuff in between."
"His delivery is under control," added Schmidt. "He has mastered the things we worked on. I don't think [his injury] had anything to do with that. I don't think it's going to be an issue anymore with his delivery. He's corrected those flaws. Now he just has to stay healthy."
Brittany Ghiroli is a reporter for MLB.com. Read her blog, Britt's Bird Watch, and follow her on Twitter @britt_ghiroli. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.