The Orioles hope that left-hander John Means can return from the injured list when he is eligible so he can start on Thursday at home against the Marlins, both manager Brandon Hyde and Means said this weekend.
Speaking for the first time since arm fatigue forced him to miss his scheduled Opening Day assignment, Means on Saturday said that he’s nearly recovered from the soreness in his left biceps that sidelined him toward the end of Summer Camp. He characterized the issue as minor, saying the bicep merely had “some knots in it" rather than any structural damage.
“My arm feels great right now. It feels really good, and it has for the past five, six days or so,” Means said. “It was disappointing, obviously. That would have been a dream come true, to pitch Opening Day at Fenway Park. I’m excited to get back out there against Miami.”
In the interim, Means is stationed at the alternate training site in Bowie, Md., where he threw a bullpen session without issue earlier this week. He has a simulated game scheduled for Sunday; should he get through that pain-free, the path will be clear for him to face the Marlins.
Means is looking to build on his All-Star rookie season in 2019, when he went 12-11 with a 3.60 ERA and placed second in American League Rookie of the Year voting. He was built up to five innings and 75 pitches upon arriving at Summer Camp, having added at least a couple of miles per hour of fastball velocity during the layoff.
“I had a lot of time to myself. I had a lot of time just throwing into the mattress, into the wall, during quarantine,” he said. “I think the problem was I was feeling really, really good coming in. I got a little froggy there for a while. I was throwing hard, I was throwing everything hard, and I ended up tweaking something. It’s probably my fault, but when I’m feeling good, I want to just get on the track and go. I need to learn how to use the breaks a little bit.”
O's being careful with Harvey
Right-hander Hunter Harvey won’t come off the IL when eligible next week, Hyde said, as the Orioles continue to work the hard-throwing reliever back cautiously from a lingering bout of arm fatigue. Harvey, who has been sidelined since before the exhibition games with soreness in the muscles around his elbow, has yet to begin throwing. Hyde did not provide a timetable for Harvey, the club’s No. 12 prospect per MLB Pipeline.
“He’s still in a progression,” Hyde said. “He’s going to start playing catch here hopefully soon, and it’s going to be monitoring and a bullpen and probably a sim game or two. I don’t think we have a timetable on it. We’re just watching how he’s progressing, and it is getting better.”
Harvey, who has not addressed the injury publicly, has a long history of arm trouble, and he missed large chunks from 2015 to 2018 to elbow and shoulder injuries.
Phillips talks recovery
There might have been no Oriole who benefited more from the four-month layoff than right-hander Evan Phillips, who was sidelined with a lingering elbow injury when Spring Training shut down. Flash forward to early July, and Phillips’ elbow responded well enough to treatment and rehab that he returned to the mound, completing three bullpen sessions in five days. He was added to the camp roster and snuck onto the 30-man from there, earning a bullpen job.
“Once I got through [those bullpen sessions] clean, I felt really strong,” Phillips said. “I had a lot of work to do at Summer Camp. I think I did really well, and I’m continuing to build on that. Hopefully, my arm holds up, and as of now I feel really good.”
Phillips was worried initially that he would need surgery, particularly when MRI results prompted the Orioles to seek a second opinion. Those fears are now alleviated, with Phillips saying on Saturday that he feels “100 percent” healthy. He recorded a 6.43 ERA in 25 Major League relief appearances in 2019, bouncing between the Majors and Triple-A Norfolk most of the season.