BALTIMORE — The precise timetable and path forward for John Means remains unclear, a day after the Orioles placed their ace on the 10-day injured list with a left elbow strain. But the outlook remains grim, with the club preparing to be without Means for the foreseeable future.
Asked today if Means would pitch again this season, Orioles manager Brandon Hyde would not commit to that possibility.
“I don’t know that,” Hyde said. “That’s a question mark right now.”
Added Hyde: “I wouldn’t expect him to pitch any time soon.”
For the second consecutive day, the manager did not disclose specifics on the nature of Means’ injury. Means, additionally, has not discussed it publicly since leaving his April 13 start after four innings and 51 pitches, complaining of forearm tightness. But the implication is that it is significant.
The results of the MRI imaging Means underwent Thursday were concerning enough to prompt Means to seek a second opinion; the left-hander has a history of shoulder issues, but not elbow injuries.
“He’s still seeing some doctors, getting some second opinions,” Hyde said. “It’s going to be a while.”
Means said Wednesday he had felt his forearm flare up in his last outing, coming on a curveball he threw against the Rays on Opening Day. The days that followed showed improvement, and Means said his warmup and first two innings on Wednesday were unhampered. But a curveball he threw in the third -- an inning in which he threw four -- caused another flareup, and by the time he made it through the fourth inning on just 51 pitches, it was impacting all his pitches.
“It's frustrating, for sure,” Means said on Wednesday. “Never felt the forearm before. It's always been little things in the shoulder. I’ve never felt it, and that's what worried me a little bit."
The Orioles are also not yet committing to how they will fill Means’ rotation slot, and are now without 40 percent of their Opening Day rotation with Dean Kremer also injured. They’re pegging righty Spenser Watkins to start Monday in Kremer’s spot, but still need to find a solution for Tuesday in Oakland. Veteran righty Jordan Lyles, converted reliever Tyler Wells and Bruce Zimmermann round out their current rotation.
The Orioles entered the year already thin on pitching depth behind Means, who emerged as a surprise rookie and the team’s unquestioned ace in 2019. He’s pitched to a 3.72 ERA in 69 games (65 starts) since, thrice landing on the injured list with reoccurring, but relatively minor, shoulder trouble. The team recalled right-hander Travis Lakins Sr. from Triple-A Norfolk on Friday for bullpen depth, but he’s not considered a starting candidate.