Now the scramble to sort out O's rotation after Thursday's developments

For now, we have to put on hold any talk that this might be among the best O’s rotations ever. They added a stud pitcher in 2021 National League Cy Young Award winner Corbin Burnes, but on the first day of spring training we saw that injuries subtracted, at least for some period of time, two starters.

We’ve seen better days in Birdland.

Right-hander Kyle Bradish, who was fourth in American League Cy Young voting last year when he had a 2.83 ERA, is expected to start the new season on the injured list with a UCL sprain in his right elbow. He had a PRP injection. Now Birdland waits nervously with hope that eradicates the problem and it doesn’t get more serious later.

That news comes alongside the information that left-hander John Means is about a month behind the other pitchers. His winter of throwing moved slower than expected due to his elbow soreness that caused him to miss the playoffs. That followed his Tommy John surgery of April 2022. He has thrown just 31 2/3 big league innings the last two seasons. He was confident of pitching a full load of innings when interviewed during Birdland Caravan, but now he is likely to miss Opening Day.

The 2023 AL Rookie of the Year, Gunnar Henderson, experienced some mild oblique aggravation about two weeks ago while working out at home. At least he is expected to be ready for Opening Day.

And minor league catcher Samuel Basallo, rated as the No. 7 prospect in the sport just yesterday by, was diagnosed with a stress fracture in his right elbow. A non-roster invite to camp, he is indeed there in Sarasota. But for now, he is limited to catching bullpens and he can hit in games as a designated hitter. No throwing right now.

Said executive vice president and general manager Mike Elias: “His throwing and game-catching is probably something that we’re not going to see until very deep into April. But that’s looking like a matter of time.”

Bradish, Means, Henderson and Basallo. Wowser, enough tough news to ruin a Florida sunset on Day 1.

Remind me to skip the first day updates from camp next year.

Elias told reporters that right now they are preparing Bradish for a lot of action in 2024. The injection seems to have helped and, per Elias, he will begin a throwing program today.

“The early returns are very encouraging and everything is in a really good spot right now,” he said.

Means is throwing too, but he is behind the other pitchers.

Elias said this does not currently project to have long-term implications for Bradish, who pitched to an ERA of 1.87 his last 10 starts of last year before he started Game 1 of the Division Series.

What looked like a robust O’s rotation that was considered among the best in the American League by national analysts lost two starters during one press update. It now could feature this five on Opening Day:

Corbin Burnes
Grayson Rodriguez
Dean Kremer
Tyler Wells
Cole Irvin

At one point this winter, the debate was whether Wells and DL Hall would be in the rotation or bullpen. Now Wells is needed to start and Hall is gone.

The addition of Burnes, which seemed so big at the time, remains so, even more now with this news.

So how do the Orioles react and what comes next?

It seems a long shot they pursue a top-of-the-rotation free agent starter like Blake Snell or Jordan Montgomery, but could they make a lesser move for a pitcher like Hyun Jin Ryu for the back of the rotation? And he’s a lefty.

Do the rumors of the pursuit of White Sox pitcher Dylan Cease re-emerge? Or could they make a play for other potential trade targets like Jesús Luzardo or Edward Cabrera?

Their deep farm is still ranked No. 1 in the sport even after the Burnes trade.

Former O’s GM Andy MacPhail used to say pitching is expensive and fragile. That point was apparent again yesterday. Now we see how the O’s handle this news with Opening Day set for March 28. We saw the fragile side of the equation. Now will there be some expense needed to cover the at least temporary loss of the pitchers, either in dollars or prospects.

Health updates on Bradish, Means, Henderson and Ba...
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