Leftovers for breakfast

Teammates felt sharp pangs of sympathy for Orioles pitcher John Means, experiencing their own discomfort after he packed up his belongings Wednesday and flew back to Baltimore.

They don’t know when they’ll see him again, though early next week at Camden Yards is most likely. They don’t know how long he’ll be on the injured list or when he’ll start again. No one had answers yesterday.

None of it seemed fair.

Means returns from ligament-reconstructive surgery in his elbow and a strained muscle in his upper back, only to be shelved by a strained left forearm that keeps him off the Division Series roster. He accepts that he’ll begin the 2024 season on the injured list, is reinstated, and returns to it after only four starts and with his ERA at 2.61 and WHIP at 0.871.

“It’s so hard to hear,” said reliever Danny Coulombe. “John just worked his tail off to get back. Nobody can ever question his work ethic. But his body didn’t cooperate and we’re just hoping and praying for the best.

“I talked to him yesterday, he was in good spirits. No matter what happens, he’s going to be OK.”

The team hopes to be the same. Means is a big subtraction – again.

“First and foremost, your thoughts and your feelings go out to John,” said catcher James McCann. “He’s been through a long battle since the beginning of ’22, so this will be the third season in a row. Each of us in here knows the grind to be able to stay on the field healthy, and most of us have experience with the grind of coming back from some injury of some sort. But the nature of his injuries and how hard he’s worked, it kills you for him.

“He’s worked extremely hard to get back and having success since coming back. Every time he’s made it back, it's step up on the ladder and get knocked right down. Your heart goes out to him. And it’s obviously a big blow to our team. Him coming back, the innings that he’s eaten for us and the success that he’s had, it’s a blow to our rotation. The nature of the game is you have to have someone else step up, but he’s definitely a guy who while he’s out is going to be missed. He has that type of impact on our pitching staff and on our team.”

No one in the organization wants to hear how the Orioles have a pleasant problem with too much pitching, or the complications of fitting so many starters into their rotation. The injured list keeps providing unwanted solutions.

“That’s part of this game. Injuries are part of this game, and as a player you stay ready and you know that there are a lot of things you can’t control,” McCann said.

“John’s done everything he can to stay healthy and work his way back, and to have another setback, you hate it for him. But (Cole) Irvin was right there to come in (Wednesday), and hopefully John’s back sooner rather than later because the impact that he has is a big one.”

* Players knew that reliever Mike Baumann wasn’t walking through that door again.

Baumann wouldn’t have cleared waivers after the Orioles designated him for assignment, and executive vice president/general manager Mike Elias swung a trade with the Mariners Wednesday night.

“A guy like Mike Baumann, he’s a friend I’ll have forever,” Coulombe said. “You want what’s best for him, and I think he landed in a really good situation. I’m just rooting for him. I’m probably his biggest fan besides his wife and his family.

“He’s such a talented arm and he’s got such a bright future. We knew he was going to get claimed or traded for. There was no doubt.”

The void was at least partially filled by another close friend, Jonathan Heasley, who was recalled yesterday. Heasley was charged with four runs last night in the ninth inning, three scoring after he left the game. He retired the side in order in the eighth.

Coulombe and Heasley, who allowed one run in 20 innings with Triple-A Norfolk, meet up at “Athlete Training and Health,” about an hour outside of Dallas, and arrange throwing sessions in the offseason.

“He’s the man,” Coulombe said. “I’m glad he’s here. He’s been pitching really well. I just asked him, ‘What’s the difference?’ He’s like, ‘I’m just executing pitches. I’m throwing everything where I want.’ And that’s the name of this game. It doesn’t matter how hard you throw if you can’t put it where you want. I’m really happy for him.”

* The Orioles didn’t go one-for-one with the Baumann trade. They also threw in Norfolk catcher Michael Pérez in exchanged for Triple-A Tacoma catcher Blake Hunt.

Pérez spent some time in the major league clubhouse but only as a taxi player. His last action beyond the minors was three games last year with the Mets. He’s played in 202 major league games in parts of six seasons.

Though the Orioles never offered a ranking of Triple-A catchers in the organization most likely to have their contracts selected, Pérez appeared most likely to be in front of the line based on that experience. Meanwhile, David Bañuelos had his contract selected twice, each time spending one game with the Orioles, because he was in the clubhouse with taxi squad status.

Bañuelos now has the most experience among the three Norfolk catchers, because Hunt and Maverick Handley haven’t appeared in the majors. Bañuelos has them beat by a grand total of one game and one at-bat, which happened on April 16 against the Twins at Camden Yards, before he was designated for assignment and cleared waivers.

* Right fielder Anthony Santander homered last night and extended his hitting streak against the White Sox to six games. He’s slashing .370/.414/.889 with two doubles, four homers, 12 RBIs and a 1.303 OPS in that span.

Jorge Mateo was the first Orioles player with a home run and two stolen bases in the same game since Cedric Mullins on Sept. 10, 2021 against the Blue Jays.

Austin Hays is 4-for-7 with two RBIs as a pinch-hitter this season.

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