Health updates on Bradish, Means, Henderson and Basallo

SARASOTA, Fla. – Kyle Bradish said he’s “very confident” that he can recover from his elbow injury and be a major contributor to the 2024 Orioles.

Bradish was diagnosed in January with an ulnar collateral ligament sprain.

“I’m feeling really good right now,” he said this morning. “I’m going to take it day by day, trust the process and the schedule and everything.”

Orioles executive vice president/general manager Mike Elias confirmed yesterday that Bradish will begin the season on the injured list. Bradish was expected to be the No. 2 starter behind Corbin Burnes.

“Obviously, I was bummed, based on the year we had last year and coming into this year feeling really confident,” Bradish said of the diagnosis. “It’s a little bit of a setback, but like I said, I feel confident that I’ll be able to pitch and help this team out this year.”

Bradish felt irritation in his elbow while throwing and received a platelet-rich plasma injection. He didn’t do much research on it but sounds confident that he can avoid surgery.

“I haven’t studied up on it,” he said. “I trust our training staff and what they said. Initial kind of results from it, I feel good, and we’ll see how it goes when I throw.”

The throwing progression begins today with some light tossing on flat ground.

John Means also is headed to the injured list because he’s a month behind the other pitchers following the elbow soreness that kept him off the Division Series roster.

“There’s a lot of depth on this team with a lot of good pitchers,” Bradish said, “so I have full confidence that this team won’t miss a beat.”

That sentiment echoes through the clubhouse at the Ed Smith Stadium complex.

“I feel like we overcame adversity last year, especially toward the end of the year with Félix (Bautista) going down,” said infielder Gunnar Henderson. “I felt like we just buy in together and no matter what happens, we’re going to go out there and put our best foot forward and try to win every game. We’re just going to go out there and continue to play Oriole baseball, and I feel like that will put us in a good situation to win.”

“I think we have a lot of tremendous arms, great coaching staff,” said catcher Adley Rutschman. “Last year I feel like our M.O. was, guys were always stepping up to fill in, and I feel like that’s a character thing and that’s going to continue this year. Obviously, I love Bradish and it’s tough to hear, but I think we’ve always got guys stepping up and I trust in our guys and our coaching staff.”

“We have a ton of depth,” Means said. “Everybody in this clubhouse trusts each other and we know that anybody we throw out there is going to be pretty dang good.”

That’s especially true of Burnes, the former Cy Young Award winner who’s the instant ace of the staff.

“That’s awesome. Awesome,” Means said.

“Get a guy of that caliber in this clubhouse, it’s going to be great. It’s only a positive.”

Rutschman caught Burnes’ first bullpen session yesterday.

“Seems like a great guy and I’ve heard a lot of great things about him,” Rutschman said. “Excited to be able to work with him and see how we can help each other.”

Means didn’t experience any setbacks. The delay to his 2024 debut is a product of the team’s decision to provide extended rest and push back his first bullpen session to Jan. 30.

“I feel great right now,” he said.

“That was the schedule to kind of take some extra time off and it ended up being about a month.”

Asked if Opening Day is a possibility, Means replied, “It’s probably unlikely.”

“At this point I kind of understand, follow the process and do the best I can every day,” he said, “and try to be as prepared as I can.”

Means didn’t shut down completely. He maintained a workout regime that only excluded throwing.

The Orioles are counting on Means to hold down a spot in the middle or near the back end of their rotation. He recovered from Tommy John surgery but didn’t pitch again for the Orioles until Sept. 12 due to a strained muscle in his upper back.

The elbow flared up during a simulated game at Camden Yards, the latest cruelty in his professional life.

“Honestly, my faith has kind of carried me through this and I’ve become closer and closer to it, and I’ve learned more and more that I am not in control,” he said. “So kind of keep that in mind and try to stay in the word every day.”

Henderson is dealing with some minor left oblique soreness that cropped up about three weeks ago while he was long-tossing at home.

“My left side kind of caught on me,” he said. “It’s the non-throwing side, so yeah, just caught on me while I was throwing and I’m three weeks out, so I should be ready to roll here before too long.

“We got all the scans and stuff and it all showed good news, so it’s all good.”

Catcher Samuel Basallo, the No. 2 prospect in the system and No. 17 in baseball per MLB Pipeline, has a stress fracture in his right elbow that he sustained in November. A “bump in the road,” as Elias described it.

“Right now, it’s really good and we’ve been working to get it better,” Basallo said through interpreter Brandon Quinones. “Slowly, we’ve been doing more activities to continue getting it in a better place.”

Basallo is limited to serving as a designated hitter in camp, with throwing in games probably delayed until late April. He wasn’t going to make the club out of spring training but can keep making a positive impression.

“Just continue to gain experience,” he said. “See what the guys above me are doing and just try to learn from them as much as possible and continue finding ways to improve myself.”

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