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The dreaded Orioles physical rears its ugly head with Yovani Gallardo

You know how the phrase "pending physical" is just seen as a formality? Well, it is, until suddenly it isn't - and with the Orioles and Yovani Gallardo, now it is more than just a formality.

When it comes to baseball players agreeing to contracts, the phrase "pending physical" is generally little more than a formality. At least, it's a formality until suddenly it's not. The contract between the Orioles and Yovani Gallardo was all smooth sailing and then it wasn't, at least according to Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports, who says that "questions have come up" about the results of Gallardo's physical.

Earlier in the day, MASN's Roch Kubatko tweeted that there was "more work to be done" with the physical and that further diagnostic tests were to be underway. At the time, that seemed like a description of a routine part of the process, although it now seems that this was something intended to have a read-between-the-lines message that there may be an issue of some kind. Sure enough, a couple of hours later, we find there's a snag in the whole thing.

The tune being sung is now this:

Other O's reporters characterize the development as "not necessarily unusual" and as there being "nothing to suggest the deal is in jeopardy (yet)".

It's more of a surprise than usual that the Orioles physical has reared its ugly head. The O's were specifically said to have been confident in Gallardo's medical situation, according to the Baltimore Sun's Eduardo Encina. So much for that.

These are very different tunes being sung here, viewpoints that are not compatible with one another. Either there's an issue with the physical or there's not. Maybe the local writers are correct and this is just fairly usual stuff that the O's do, especially with pitcher contracts. If that's the case, Passan's report was a premature sounding of the alarm.

On the other hand, maybe Passan is right and it's time for panic in Birdland, which the Orioles are looking to forestall by suggesting to local writers that everything is normal.

Keep in mind that the last time the O's physical blew up a multi-year deal with a pitcher was when they were trying to sign reliever Grant Balfour. They were roundly mocked in the media because no one else thought there was anything wrong with Balfour.

The Rays - whose doctor vouched for Balfour's health in bashing the O's physical - ended up signing Balfour, who went on to post a 5.00 ERA over the contract. He was so bad he was designated for assignment in April of the second year of the deal. One might speculate that Balfour's health not being perfect led to his struggling, and the O's were lucky their physical helped them dodge that problem.

What's the story with Gallardo? Time will tell which side ends up being proven right. Until then, be ready for anything.