John Means making progress but not likely to pitch in any spring games

SARASOTA, Fla. – The timetable for lefty John Means has not changed. He began spring training a month behind the other pitchers after he had an extended winter rest period. This followed his missing the American League Division Series with elbow soreness.

But Means is continuing to throw in Florida and his next step, he said today, will be live bullpen sessions coming in the next week or two.

But he is not likely to pitch in any spring training games, which run through March 24. And he is still expected to begin the regular season on the injured list. 

“Means, maybe, probably not,” manager Brandon Hyde said this morning when asked specifically whether Means will pitch before the spring games end.

Said Means, who went 1-2 with a 2.66 ERA in four starts last September: “I’m going to be doing some live BPs here coming up. We’ll see where it goes from there. We’re getting there.”

The team has seemed rather unconcerned about Means and expects him to pitch early this season. Means shares that assessment.

“Yeah, I’m not worried about it,” he said this morning in the Baltimore clubhouse. “I feel good. I feel healthy and I feel like this is the best plan for this season. It makes the most sense.”

He said he hopes to be pitching in a big league game before April is out.

Hyde added that catcher Samuel Basallo, who has not been throwing due an elbow stress fracture, could bat in games in the middle part of this month.

“He’s doing really well,” said Hyde. “Probably try to get him some at-bats sometime in the next couple of weeks.”

Hyde said Gunnar Henderson should play in his first spring game in the next few days. Veteran infielder Kolten Wong, signed Wednesday to a minor league contract, will make his O's spring debut today against the New York Yankees in a game that will be televised live on MASN.

The Orioles (7-1) have the third-best spring team ERA, for what it is worth at this point, at 3.25.

Lefty Cole Irvin gets the start today. Sunday he pitched two scoreless innings versus the Pirates, showing increased velocity with one pitch hitting 95.9 mph. He threw 28 pitches in that one as his four-seamer averaged 94 mph.

"Just continue to build," Hyde said about Irvin's outing this afternoon. "He pitched really well his last time, two innings. Think he may go further today. But, you know, he’s had a really good start to his camp so far. His fastball velocity is up. Secondary stuff has been really good. Continue to build these starters up, as much as we can before we break."

A couple of New York reporters showed up this morning at Hyde's press briefing and Hyde was asked about the Yankees' addition of Juan Soto, who is not on the trip today.

“Good player. What do I make of it? I think everybody in our division is going into this year trying to get to the postseason. And the Yankees, you know, made moves this offseason to try and improve their club. Adding Juan Soto is definitely going to help. We can’t control what other teams do around us and we’ll focus on our guys. I think all the teams in our division got better."

As for his guys, Hyde is seeing a camp that is humming along well thus far. Several of the O's young players are having good springs and the club overall is playing well in the games.

Hyde loves the competition for roster spots. The focus is often on which players will make the Opening Day roster, but Hyde hopes his clubhouse appreciates the fact that many more than 26 will be needed to chase another playoff spot.

“You try to convey to them that, while 26 guys will go to Baltimore, it’s going to take 40-plus guys for the season," he said. "So whether you are on the Opening Day roster, or get called up two weeks after the season starts, it’s really how we finish the season with what we have. There is a ton of competition in camp and guys are very aware of that. We’ve gotten better and it’s harder to win jobs in the big leagues with us now. Everyone is putting in great effort so far. Still a lot of decisions to be made. If they don’t break with us, stay ready. They’re a phone call away."

Also scheduled to pitch for the Orioles today are Luis Gonzalez, Dillon Tate, Nick Vespi, Wandisson Charles and Julio Teheran. This would be Teheran's first outing since signing a minor league deal Wednesday.

The Orioles brought six pitchers over today from minors camp. They are Ryan Hennen, Logan Rinehart, Kade Strowd, Juan De Los Santos, Kyle Virbitsky and Keagen Gillies.

They also brought catcher Adam Retzbach, infielders Collin Burns, Greg Cullen and Errol Robinson, and outfielder Matthew Etzel. 

The Orioles list Grayson Rodriguez to start Sunday against Pittsburgh and Dean Kremer Monday versus Minnesota. 

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