Orioles "hoping for the best" with Means back in Baltimore, Heasley talks about his latest promotion

CHICAGO – John Means has returned to Baltimore and is undergoing further examinations and testing on his sore left elbow.

Means went on the 15-day injured list today with a left forearm strain after tossing three scoreless innings yesterday in St. Louis but experiencing discomfort that caused him to occasionally flex his arm. He obviously was uncomfortable on the mound.

“He’s meeting with the doctors in Baltimore and just haven’t gotten the results back yet,” manager Brandon Hyde said. “He’s meeting with them this afternoon and we’re hoping for the best.

“It was disappointing because he’s worked so hard to get back and was a huge boost for us in September last year after the long road back. Was throwing the ball well. You could tell something was a little bit off yesterday, but hopefully we get good news today.”

Means couldn’t pitch in the 2023 Division Series due to a forearm strain, and he went on the injured list Opening Day to get built up after a late start to his winter throwing program.

Asked whether the current injury is the same as the one in October, Hyde said, “It’s in the elbow area. I don’t know if it was exactly the same soreness or where he was feeling it, but it’s in his elbow.

“For us, (yesterday) was the first time that it was noticeable. The velocity was down a little bit. He felt like he could still push through, still wanted to pitch, but that was really the first time it was noticeable was yesterday.”

Plans to go with a six-man rotation could be put on hold. The Orioles can’t make any decisions until they receive more information on Means.

“It’s kind of so fresh that we haven’t really mapped out what we’re doing yet,” Hyde said. “We’re going to wait to get this news. Anything can happen going forward. That’s why it’s so hard to plan too far ahead. That’s why I’m always a little wishy-washy with my answers about when we’re going to do certain things, because things like this come up and they seem to happen. You kind of just roll with it, and day-to-day with everything you do.”

The rotation depth allows the Orioles to move Cole Irvin into the rotation again. He’d be on normal rest to take Means’ turn Monday afternoon against the Red Sox at Camden Yards.

“It was nice that Irv got to be able to go out there for a while yesterday, and if not all the way built, he’s fairly built up to get us deep into the game at least,” Hyde said. “That’s the option.”

Every time it’s mentioned how the Orioles have an excess of starters, something seems to happen that unfortunately solves the issue.

“You can’t have enough starters, you can’t have enough pitching, period,” Hyde said. “We’ve still got a long way to go and a lot of things can happen, so we’re going to be relying on our depth, we’re going to be relying on guys in Triple-A. But we feel good about the roster we have and hopefully they can just pick up the pieces.”

Jonathan Heasley is in the bullpen tonight to provide length after the Orioles recalled him earlier today.

“That’s why we got him back, because of the ability to throw multiple for us,” Hyde said. “Irv threw a lot yesterday, so we’re in a spot where we need a guy who can throw bulk innings. We felt like he was the right option.”

Heasley tossed five scoreless innings Sunday in his first start with Triple-A Norfolk and has surrendered only one run and 10 hits with 18 strikeouts in 20 innings.

“Been throwing the ball well down there,” he said. “Felt like I got in a good little rhythm. Cleaned up some things I felt like I needed to, some small mechanical things, and just making things a little more consistent and repeatable. Feel like I’m in a good spot and excited to be here to help out, for sure.

“Just be ready to go whenever my name is called.”

Norfolk manager Buck Britton passed along the news of Heasley’s promotion, his second with the Orioles this season.

“I was actually walking out the tunnel yesterday right before the game, all ready to go, and Buck yelled, ‘Heasley’ down the hall,” Heasley said. “I turned around and he was just like, ‘Hey man, they’re gonna need you to head back up and help out the big league team. Obviously, that’s always an exciting time, no matter how many times it’s happened or whatever. Excited, for sure.”

He just wishes that it didn’t come at Means’ expense.

“You never want to see that happen to anybody, especially a great guy like him,” Heasley said. “Just knowing the type of guy he is and the work that he puts in, it’s obviously terrible to see, but I know he’ll come back stronger, whatever it is. I don’t even really know much about it. I’m just praying for him and hoping it’s nothing too serious.”

Tyler Wells, on the injured list with right elbow inflammation, has started to play catch down in Sarasota.

Wells made only three starts with the Orioles, the last on April 12.

Mike Baumann made his Mariners debut earlier today against the Yankees after last night’s trade and didn’t allow a run in two-thirds of an inning. He walked two batters in New York’s 5-0 win.

“Would have loved to have kept him, but I think we all thought there was a real slim chance with the numbers he’s posted the last couple years and the stuff that he has,” Hyde said. “Went to a really good pitching organization in Seattle. Wishing him the best.”

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