Out since '15, prospect Kline nears return

Recovering from Tommy John surgery, O's righty happy with 'pen sessions

Out since '15, prospect Kline nears return

SARASOTA, Fla. -- Orioles prospect Branden Kline, who had Tommy John surgery in October 2015, is expected to have a normal Spring Training, and the organization is optimistic he can began the season at Double-A Bowie.

Kline, a Frederick, Md., native who was the O's second-round pick in the 2012 MLB Draft, threw a bullpen session Tuesday as part of the team's minicamp at Ed Smith Stadium, and he is encouraged with how things are going.

"That was the one thing that I kind of appreciated, with the timing of everything, even though unfortunately I missed all of last year, I was able to kind of get all the thinking about -- 'Is my arm healed? Am I going to be normal?' -- I got all that out last year," Kline said. "So I was able to go and have a normal offseason, and having that normal offseason, being able to do my normal workouts, my normal throwing. I've really showed up here at the camp ready to go like nothing ever happened."

Kline, who hasn't pitched in a Minor League game since May 20, 2015, said he's been throwing bullpen sessions the past 1 1/2 months and he's sticking to his throwing program. Still, it was a big step to get up on the hill in Sarasota.

"You can tell from the look on his face that he's pretty excited," Orioles manager Buck Showalter said. "Just getting to that point. [Dylan Bundy] talked about it a lot, when you get to the point where you're throwing and not thinking about it, whether it's going to hurt. … And then you come in the next day and it feels good, that's when you start. Dylan got to the point last year where he really wasn't thinking about it at all. It was just, 'OK, I've got to get this guy out.' That's what Branden is getting closer and closer to. He was a really good prospect before he got hurt."

Kline has leaned on Bundy, who also had Tommy John surgery, as he's worked his way back.

"It's been interesting," Kline said. "Definitely learn how to be extremely patient, listen to my body. That's probably been the biggest thing.

"There are certain days I feel like I could do more than I should, and there's certain days where I might feel a little bit under the weather, and just really listening to my body. … So it's been a really good learning curve, but at the same time, I'm just ready to get back out there on the field and play some baseball."

Brittany Ghiroli has covered the Orioles for MLB.com since 2010. Read her blog, Britt's Bird Watch, follow her on Facebook and Twitter @britt_ghiroli, and listen to her podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.