Means' next start could be with Orioles, plus other pregame notes

ANAHEIM, Calif. – Lefty John Means made a fifth rehab appearance on the farm last night, pitching for Triple-A Norfolk. His next turn is likely to come Sunday and it’s possible that could be in Baltimore versus the Athletics.

While Corbin Burnes, Cole Irvin and Albert Suárez have been listed to go Friday through Sunday in that series, that is subject to change pending Means’ status.

“We’re talking about that right now,” manager Brandon Hyde said this afternoon. “He feels really good after that start. He gave up seven singles, they were not very well hit, the stuff is much improved. He’s really encouraged about how he felt during the outing and today.”

Means’ results have not been great in those five games with an ERA of 13.85 in 11 2/3 innings. But it's more about how he is feeling and his pitch quality and pitch count, which reached 79 last night. He could make another rehab start if the Orioles decide he needs that, or they could call him to Baltimore for the next one.

“It’s possibly Sunday, one more with Norfolk or with us. We’re discussing that now,” Hyde said.

O’s lefty reliever Cionel Pérez, on the injured list since March 31 with a strained right oblique, is joining Triple-A Norfolk on a rehab assignment and he is expected to pitch for the Tides tonight.

O’s first baseman Ryan Mountcastle, who is batting .333 with an OPS of .902, missed Monday’s series opener with a sore left knee. He pinch-hit last night and is starting today, batting third, in the series finale.

“Feels good,” he said this morning of his knee. “Just moving around a little more and got some treatment. Yesterday (swinging the) bat felt pretty good, everything was in sync and ready to play today.”

Gunnar Henderson is back atop the lineup today against lefty starter Tyler Anderson (2-2, 1.42 ERA). Henderson homered off a lefty last night. After batting .209 with a .618 OPS in 2023 off lefty pitching, he is batting .265/.804 now against southpaws.

"The way he has been able to stay on the baseball versus left-handed pitchers is much improved," Hyde stated. "That was a hanging curve he got last night, but I’ve been impressed with the competitiveness of his at-bats versus lefties. The way he can stay on the ball and how strong he is, that’s really improved."

Does Hyde foresee a day when he will drop Gunnar down in the batting order to a middle-of-the-order spot?

“I think maybe," he said. "I do want to see Gunnar hit as much as possible. He’s a basestealing threat, he can score from first on a double, there are a lot of things he can do (at leadoff). I don’t know if leadoff is the ideal spot for him but kind of where our team is right now for me it is."

Rutschman swinging a hot bat: O’s catcher and sometimes designated hitter Adley Rutschman is having a big series in Anaheim and his bat has been perking up for several games now.

Through 22 games, he’s batting .323/.366/.419/.786 for an OPS+ of 135. He’s 5-for-9 this series with a double and two RBIs.

When a reporter suggested earlier that his offense has flown under the radar a bit, Hyde said not with him.

“He’s one of the best hitters in the game from both sides of the plate,” said Hyde. “He gets big hits, takes unbelievable at-bats. Drives the ball in the gap. Can go deep on you. Just huge, huge hits. The guy you want up there in big spots, because the at-bats will be so good.

"He DHs quite a bit because I do want him in the lineup as much as possible. It allows him to hit second for us almost on a daily basis. Most people can't do that with their catchers. He is such a big part of our lineup you want him in there."

Rutschman has four multi-hit games his past five games, going 11-for-24 with seven RBIs. Over his past 10 games, he’s batting .378 with a .938 OPS.

His .323 batting average ranks eighth-best in the American League beginning play today.

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