Means "way ahead of schedule" after elbow surgery

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Orioles pitcher John Means has his arbitration hearing set for May 26, during an off-day between visits to New York and Boston.

Means will be with the Orioles for the first half of the trip, wearing a brace on his left elbow and a mustache that he decided to grow again.

“Got to keep it interesting, you know?” he said this afternoon in his first media scrum since undergoing Tommy John surgery.

“I’m losing my mind. I’ve got to keep it fresh. I don’t know. Felt like doing it one day and here it is.”

The facial hair gets mixed reviews, but Means said his recovery from surgery is “going better than it’s supposed to be.”

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Jorge Mateo is back in Orioles lineup for tonight's game

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Jorge Mateo has returned to the Orioles lineup for tonight’s game against the Yankees.

Mateo wasn’t available since Sunday’s collision with Detroit’s Spenser Torkelson that left him with a bruised shoulder and chest.

Austin Hays is playing left field on back-to-back nights since returning to the lineup. Tyler Nevin is the first baseman and Anthony Bemboom is catching.

No roster moves have been announced.

Trey Mancini is batting .392 (20-for-51) with two home runs since May 3.

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Kremer's return to mound leads to more questions

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The Orioles didn’t wait long this season to create some roster and injury intrigue, to build speculation and curiosity within the media until further details became available.

Remember the third game at Tropicana Field?

Come on, it wasn’t that long ago.

The club hadn’t confirmed its fifth starter, who became Spenser Watkins. Dean Kremer began to warm in the visiting bullpen, eliminating him from the race.

And then, he walked to the dugout. An unusual move, since relievers usually go from the ‘pen to the mound.

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Rodriguez provides nice distraction on farm as Orioles lose fifth in a row (updated)

Rodriguez provides nice distraction on farm as Orioles lose fifth in a row (updated)

The timing of Spenser Watkins’ start for the Orioles was bound to shift the attention away from him at various points in the night.

Grayson Rodriguez was pitching for Triple-A Norfolk in Charlotte. The internet is still a thing. You get the idea.

The No. 1 pitching prospect in baseball struck out a season-high 11 batters in 5 1/3 scoreless innings, his fastball registering at 98-99 mph per Statcast. Screens on laptops in the press box were flipped like hotcakes.

Rodriguez exited the game in the sixth after an error and walk disturbed his evening. The out came when he covered third base on a fly ball force play – you had to be there - and Mike Baumann stranded the runners.  

Watkins, meanwhile, was facing the team with the best record in baseball, and with Aaron Judge returning to its lineup. Judge had an RBI double and home run through the third, Watkins was removed after the fourth with the Orioles leading, and Judge greeted Joey Krehbiel with a game-tying 422-foot home run.

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Orioles recall Gillaspie and option Bannon (plus lineups and notes)

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The Orioles doubled down on their earlier roster move that promoted left-hander Nick Vespi to the majors.

Pitcher Logan Gillaspie was recalled from Triple-A Norfolk this afternoon to increase bullpen depth during a rough stretch of games. Infielder Rylan Bannon was optioned to Triple-A Norfolk.

Gillaspie, added to the 40-man roster after the 2021 season, has made nine combined appearances between Double-A Bowie and Norfolk and registered a 3.14 ERA and 1.186 WHIP with 17 strikeouts in 14 1/3 innings. He surrendered two runs in 6 1/3 innings with the Tides.

“Another guy on our 40-man roster that we want to take a look at,” said manager Brandon Hyde. “Didn’t see him much in spring training. Kind of an unusual story. Remember talking to him in camp. I just saw him for two seconds before I came in here, so haven’t had a chance to speak with him much, but he started the year in Double-A, pitched well, been doing a fairly good job in Triple-A, and we needed the innings.”

Vespi, 26, and Gillaspie, 25, are awaiting their major league debuts.

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Nick Vespi joins Orioles bullpen

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The Orioles selected the contract of left-hander Nick Vespi from Triple-A Norfolk this afternoon and designated lefty Logan Allen for assignment.

Vespi, who’s wearing No. 79, brings a 0.00 ERA to Camden Yards while waiting to make his major league debut. The 18th round draft pick in 2015 was charged with three unearned runs and six hits in 14 1/3 innings, with three walks and 21 strikeouts.

Allen was claimed off waivers from the Guardians on May 5 and made three appearances, allowing two runs and three hits with two walks in 1 2/3 innings.

Today’s moves are the latest to impact the bullpen. Paul Fry was designated for assignment on Saturday. Denyi Reyes has his contract selected on Thursday, made his major league debut with two scoreless innings in Detroit and was optioned.

Meanwhile, the Orioles resume their four-game series with the Yankees tonight. Neither team has posted its lineup.

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This, that and the other

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The Orioles began their homestand last night without a single roster move.

Didn’t need to replace an injured player whose day-to-day status grew too long. Didn’t select the contract of baseball’s No. 1 prospect.

Austin Hays took coach’s batting practice, but only the shadow of Adley Rutschman could keep fans from seeing the importance of that update.

The Triple-A Norfolk Tides were off yesterday. Rutschman didn’t hop on a flight to Baltimore.

The Orioles never circled that date or any other on the calendar. Some media did. Some fans did. The opening game of a homestand seemed to make sense.

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Bradish's second look at Yankees not as successful (updated)

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Kyle Bradish imagined this night for at least two months.

Probably a lot longer.

Bradish stood outside the visiting clubhouse at the Yankees spring training complex in Tampa after tossing two scoreless innings, said he had fun pitching in front of a large crowd in prime time and facing a lineup stacked with regulars, and spoke without a trace of cockiness about future rematches.

“They’re in the division,” he said, “so getting an early look at them is always nice.”

The Orioles didn’t break camp with Bradish and kept him back at extended spring training to build up innings. He wasn’t promoted until April 29, the news breaking a day earlier while the Orioles coincidentally were at Yankee Stadium.

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Hays' early hitting and fielding drills bring him closer to return

Hays' early hitting and fielding drills bring him closer to return

Austin Hays took coach’s batting practice this afternoon and did some outfield work, including shagging fly balls, and is nearing a return to the Orioles lineup.

Hays has been missing from it since the final game in St. Louis, when reliever Génesis Cabrera stepped on his left hand on a play at first base.

“My hand’s feeling a lot better today,” Hays said while standing at his locker. “The swelling was pretty bad the last couple of days, but the stitches have settled, so now I can regain some baseball activities today.”

The Orioles were able to avoid putting Hays on the injured list. The initial fear was that he suffered a break, but he escaped “only” with lacerations.

“Originally, it was kind of unsure, but then the doctor said that I would be able to play with the stitches in, I wouldn’t have to wait for them to come out before I could resume,” he said.

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Orioles lineup vs. Yankees

Orioles lineup vs. Yankees

The Orioles have returned home after being swept in Detroit, and Robinson Chirinos is catching tonight.

No roster moves have been announced. No new lockers in the home clubhouse.

Austin Hays is attempting to hit this afternoon. The swelling is down in his left hand, but he remains out of the lineup.

Ramón Urías is batting cleanup and starting at shortstop. Rylan Bannon is playing third base in his first game at Camden Yards.

Tyler Nevin is the first baseman. Ryan McKenna is in left field.

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Orioles experience more pain beyond a series sweep

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Jorge Mateo ran full-speed into Tigers first baseman Spencer Torkelson yesterday on a bunt up the line, and the result was predictable. Mateo hit the ground hard and stayed down as manager Brandon Hyde and head athletic trainer Brian Ebel bolted from the dugout.

Mateo eventually got up and finished his at-bat, falling to one knee on a swing and striking out on the next pitch. But not until Hyde had patted him on the back and gave him a quick shoulder rub, relieved that his starting shortstop didn’t join the list of injured Orioles.

Two innings later, Chris Owings was pinch-hitting for Mateo, who left the game with rib cage soreness.

Of course he did. This team is a bundle of bad breaks.

Hyde told the media afterward that Mateo has a left shoulder and chest contusion. X-rays were negative and he’s day-to-day.

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Orioles and Tigers lineups (and notes)

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Austin Hays remains out of the Orioles lineup today as they conclude their road trip in Detroit.

Hays hasn’t played since Cardinals reliever Genesis Cabrera stepped on the back of his left hand in the seventh inning of Thursday’s game. He told the media this morning that he threw yesterday and is hoping to increase his baseball activity on Monday.

Ramón Urías moves up from fourth to second in the order today, and Jorge Mateo is batting fifth for the third time in his career and the first in 2022.

Tyler Nevin is the third baseman, Ryan McKenna the left fielder and Rylan Bannon the designated hitter.

Since May 3, the Orioles have two of the top four batting averages in the American League with Trey Mancini, first at .405, and Cedric Mullins, fourth at .354.

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Injuries contribute to painful outcomes for Orioles in Detroit

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The good vibes that gained strength for the Orioles in St. Louis are weakened for the predictable reasons.

The club isn’t built to withstand injuries to key players, and the cluster is a killer.

Beating the Cardinals in the final game of the series with virtually no bench and with the bullpen almost empty in the late innings is more astounding now that the Orioles are a loss away from being swept by a bad Tigers team.

I ran down the litany of health concerns while prepping MASNsports.com’s Brendan Mortensen for his first road trip and first taste of beat work. Ryan Mountcastle had a sore left wrist. Ramón Urías had discomfort in his abdomen. Austin Hays had lacerations on the back of his left hand from Genesis Cabrera’s spikes. Rougned Odor had a sinus issue.

The taxi squad was full because the Orioles needed to prepare for multiple roster moves.

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Orioles DFA Paul Fry and claim Beau Sulser

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Left-hander Paul Fry might not make it back to Baltimore.

The Orioles designated Fry for assignment this afternoon and claimed right-hander Beau Sulser off waivers from the Pirates.

Sulser has three minor league options, and he’s reporting to Triple-A Norfolk.

Fry, 29, allowed eight earned runs and nine total with seven walks in 12 innings with the Orioles, and they optioned him Thursday morning while recalling infielder Rylan Bannon and closing out their series in St. Louis. He was much more effective in May with no runs allowed and only two hits in five innings, but it didn't save his job.

Manager Brandon Hyde was using Fry in lower leverage situations and getting better results.

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McKenna recalled from Norfolk (plus lineups and notes)

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The Orioles strengthened their bench this afternoon in Detroit by recalling outfielder Ryan McKenna from Triple-A Norfolk and optioning reliever Denyi Reyes to the Tides.

Reyes made his major league debut last night and tossed two scoreless innings with two strikeouts.

McKenna was 5-for-19 with two doubles with the Orioles. He had a three-homer game with Norfolk and was 9-for-33.

The move gives the Orioles a four-man bench again, though Austin Hays isn’t available due to the lacerations on his left hand sustained Thursday in St. Louis.

McKenna is playing left field today and batting seventh.

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Three thoughts on Orioles as they continue road trip

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While the Orioles opened a three-game series last night in Detroit on the backend of their two-city road trip, I returned home from St. Louis, checked the top of my head, ignored the gel and jotted down a few observations.

Jorge López is the closer, but Félix Bautista is the trusted backup

López rejoined the team yesterday in Detroit after three days on the bereavement list. In his absence, Bautista recorded two saves in the St. Louis series and fired nine fastballs Thursday afternoon in triple digits. A few others were clocked at 99 mph.

Bautista is a rookie who turns 27 next month and came to the organization as a free-agent signing in August 2016, one year after the Marlins released him. He made 11 appearances at Single-A Aberdeen last summer, reached two other levels in the system and landed on the 40-man roster to protect him in a Rule 5 draft that never materialized due to the lockout.

A high walk rate raised some red flags. Bautista figured to go back to Triple-A Norfolk and sharpen his command, but the Orioles broke camp with him and now he’s pitching in high leverage situations.

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Mountcastle goes on injured list (plus lineups and notes)

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The Orioles are down another position player with Ryan Mountcastle going on the 10-day injured list this afternoon with a left wrist/forearm strain. The move is retroactive to Wednesday.

Reliever Jorge López has been reinstated from the bereavement list after missing the three-game series in St. Louis, giving the club a much-needed fresh arm.

Mountcastle was scratched from Wednesday’s lineup and unavailable to play yesterday. He’s batting .268/.299/.402 with three doubles, four home runs and 16 RBIs in 117 plate appearances.

Tonight’s lineup in Detroit doesn’t include outfielder Austin Hays, who sustained lacerations on the back of his left hand yesterday after Cardinals reliever Genesis Cabrera cleated him. Chris Owings is playing left field.

Ramón Urías also is on the bench again. He was scratched from Tuesday’s lineup with abdominal discomfort, but so far has avoided the injured list.

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Martin on taxi squad and in limbo as injuries mount on Orioles' roster

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ST. LOUIS - Richie Martin is used to waiting.

Through the injury rehab process. While on the Triple-A roster. And now, as a member of the Orioles taxi squad on the current road trip.

The Orioles decided against selecting Martin’s contract yesterday, choosing to recall Rylan Bannon and giving him the start at third base. Martin boarded the charter to Detroit following a 3-2 win over the Cardinals, unsure if he’d appear in his first major league game since Oct. 3, 2021 or eventually return to the Norfolk Tides.

The only information coming to Martin was the 12:30 a.m. phone call Wednesday morning instructing him to join the Orioles in St. Louis, where he’d be placed on the taxi squad. Something about a few injury concerns, but nothing else.

Infielder Ramón Urías and first baseman Ryan Mountcastle were day-to-day and a three-man bench was down to one healthy player. They expanded it to four yesterday and still only had catcher Robinson Chirinos available.

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Orioles celebrate Bannon debut and bullpen game with a win (updated)

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ST. LOUIS – Orioles manager Brandon Hyde said the club needs to find out about its players on the 40-man roster, part of a 2022 itinerary that also includes development in the farm system, prospect promotions and trying to win games and move closer to competitive status.

There’s some serious multi-tasking happening from top to bottom in the organization, with plenty of hands trying to keep it balanced.

Rylan Bannon earned his first major league promotion and start this afternoon, one of those guys the club wants to get its eyes on, and the moment wasn’t too big for him.

Bannon made a diving backhand stop along the third base line and threw out Nolan Arenado to end the first inning. He lined a single into left field on the first pitch thrown to him in the second following Jorge Mateo’s home run.

A bullpen game for the Orioles to close out the series produced an unlikely result, Bannon’s favorable first impression one highlight in a 3-2 victory over the Cardinals.

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Bannon recalled and gets start at third base in debut

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ST. LOUIS - The Orioles made multiple adjustments to their health-challenged roster this morning, with Rylan Bannon recalled from Triple-A Norfolk and given his first start in the series finale against the Cardinals.

Bannon is playing third base in his major league debut. He joined the taxi squad yesterday.

Left-hander Paul Fry was optioned to Norfolk.

Ryan Mountcastle and Ramón Urías are day-to-day with a sore wrist and abdomen, respectively. Urías said this morning that he felt better, but “not great, great.”

“Urías and Mountcastle both trending better, still not available today,” said manager Brandon Hyde. “Hopefully, they’ll be available off the bench, but not sure. They’re still getting treatment right now. We felt like we needed an extra body.”

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