The Orioles have scratched left-hander John Means from Sunday’s exhibition game against the Phillies due to “dead arm,” manager Brandon Hyde said on Saturday. The assignment was supposed to be Means’ final tuneup before his first Opening Day start, set for July 24 at Boston. His status for that outing is now uncertain.
Thomas Eshelman will start on Sunday against the Phillies, who haven’t announced their starter. Miguel Castro, Cody Carroll, Tanner Scott and Cole Sulser are also scheduled to pitch for the Orioles in that game.
“[Means] has a little bit of fatigue, so we want to hold him off just to be sure,” Hyde said. “The two-month season is the most important thing, so we want to be overly cautious with him.”
Asked if this affects Means’ status for Opening Day, Hyde said, “It’s too early for that.”
“The last few days, he had a fatigue in his arm,” Hyde said. “We’ve been monitoring day to day, and we decided today to have him skip tomorrow and give him a little more rest.”
Hyde pointed out that around this time last year, Means experienced similar fatigue. Means missed a start while on the injured list with a sore shoulder in late June, and he hit a stretch in July and August when he struggled to get deep into games. He ended the year completing at least six innings in five of his last seven outings, ultimately finishing 12-11 with a 3.60 ERA.
Means was not available to comment on the injury on Saturday.
If Means remains unavailable, Eshelman and 35-year-old right-hander Cesar Valdez seem to be the main candidates to sneak onto the roster as a result. Signed out of the Mexican League this offseason, Valdez continued to turn heads this summer by logging four scoreless innings in Friday night’s intrasquad game.
“We care so much about him, we just want to make sure we’re taking care of him,” Hyde said of Means. “Make sure he’s with us for two months.”