BALTIMORE -- Orioles outfielder Luke Scott isn't 100 percent, and doesn't pretend to be. But he acknowledged on Sunday that the combination of rehab exercises and last week's cortisone shot have made the pain more manageable in his right shoulder, increasing optimism that he can avoid season-ending surgery on his torn labrum.
"There are still days I feel it, but it's getting better," said Scott, who has been able to extend his front shoulder more at the plate -- homering on Tuesday for the first time since May 3. "It does make it better to go out there and perform, at least closer to what I'm capable of."
Scott has admitted that his injury had altered everything from his swing to pitch selection at the plate, but remained adamant about avoiding the disabled list. Rays outfielder B.J. Upton, who played with a torn right labrum in 2008 -- which he had surgically repaired that offseason -- said the pain is manageable, but never completely goes away. Upton, who also did rehab exercises but never got cortisone shots, compared his injury to feeling general shoulder weakness, and said the discomfort level fluctuated throughout the season.
"I couldn't really reach for pitches," said Upton, who -- like Scott -- saw a dip in his power numbers. "I had to do something I wasn't used to doing, and that was get on the plate. I was pretty much telling myself if I they come in, they were going to have to hit me."
The injury unquestionably puts a pitcher on the DL, but it varies more so with position players. The Nationals put Adam LaRoche on the shelf last month with no timetable for his return, and Upton -- who was fortunate to not have his throwing arm affected -- said regardless of the physical constraints, it's also a big mental hurdle to know you're one full swing away from potentially dislocating your shoulder.
"The whole time, in the back of your mind when you have something like that, you know that any swing can hurt you," Upton said. "[You] just do as much as you can to keep it strong. There's not much you can do."
Coming off a career year, Scott's homers, RBIs and slugging percentage are all down from where they were a year ago, a particularly telling stat given how slowly Scott started in 2010. For now, manager Buck Showalter will continue to pick and choose his spots with Scott, who made his fifth start of the month on Sunday.
"It's kind of unique here in June because of all the off-days and the left-hand pitchers, it's kind of fit for us," Showalter said. "I think it's yet still to be seen when we get into the long stretch, where he's playing every day, what's going to happen. But we're going to give him a chance to find out."