SARASOTA, Fla. – Left-hander John Means elevated his full-mound bullpen session yesterday.
Means said he threw changeups for the first time, counting 10 of them among his 30 pitches.
“I felt great,” he said. “I was excited about it all day.”
Means estimated that he’s done five or six bullpens, throwing every other day for the last few weeks.
More changeups are coming next week, followed by some breaking balls in April.
The Orioles are aiming for a July return for Means. He still doesn’t have a specific timetable in mind.
“I’m just trying to take it day by day and see kind of how it all feels toward the end,” he said. “That will be the real tell-tale sign is toward the end and getting those games under my belt.
Manager Brandon Hyde said first baseman Lewin Díaz isn’t ready to play due to lingering shoulder soreness. Díaz was scratched from Tuesday’s lineup.
“A little bit better today,” Hyde said. “Still probably going to be a few days, though.”
Bryan Baker, Joey Krehbiel, Mike Baumann and Nick Vespi are listed today behind starter Kyle Gibson.
Kyle Bradish starts Monday against the Phillies in Clearwater, with Félix Bautista appearing later in his third game. Bautista also is expected to pitch Thursday night against the Tigers in Sarasota.
Left-hander Cole Irvin starts Tuesday afternoon against the Red Sox in Sarasota, and Dean Kremer starts Wednesday versus the Blue Jays in Dunedin.
DL Hall will make his Grapefruit League debut Monday or Tuesday.
Hyde still isn’t ready to announce his Opening Day starter. For what it’s worth, Gibson, Bradish, Irvin, Kremer and Grayson Rodriguez are lined up in that order. Tyler Wells starts today’s other split-squad game in Tampa.
The Orioles seem hesitant to go with a piggyback setup, which would ease the load on Rodriguez early in his rookie season - assuming he’s on the club - and make it easier to control his innings.
Ryan O’Hearn is in the lineup against the Yankees after getting his first two at-bats yesterday since injuring his right knee March 11 in Dunedin.
“Hopefully, he’ll get three at-bats over there today,” Hyde said. “Just got to get him back. He felt good after the game yesterday. Just wanted to go a couple at-bats with him yesterday, get him out, and today’s three, and we’ll go from there.”
Today’s extras at Ed Smith Stadium from the minor league side include infielders Jackson Holliday and Connor Norby and outfielders Dylan Beavers, Jud Fabian and Robert Neustrom. Pitchers Blaine Knight, Nick Richmond, Jensen Elliott and Phoenix Sanders also are here.
Outfielder Anthony Santander and reliever Darwinzon Hernández will return to camp later today or Monday after Venezuela was eliminated in the World Baseball Classic.
Santander received regular plate appearances, unlike center fielder Cedric Mullins with Team USA. He was in right field again last night and finished 6-for-17 with two home runs in the WBC.
“First thing we’ll do is talk about what this next week is going to look like for him, see how he feels physically,” Hyde said. “He’s been playing a lot, nine innings of defense, getting a lot of at-bats. Going to be cautious with him early, probably. See how he feels, to be honest with you.
“I’m just so proud of him for what he did on the big stage. It’s fun to see your guys get national attention.”
Austin Voth tossed two scoreless innings against the Red Sox yesterday before surrendering four runs in the eighth. Only one was earned.
“I think the third inning got away from him a little bit, but the first two innings were the best he’s thrown this spring, so that’s definitely the positive,” Hyde said. “Curveball’s still not quite there yet and that’s going to come. But his fastball and cutter were what they were like last year and you can just see him getting better every outing.”
The Orioles have 51 players on the spring training roster and many of their cuts are anticipated on the final day.
“I think there might be a couple sporadic cuts in between now and Opening Day,” Hyde said, “but I think that we’re going to have these guys get as many at-bats as possible and see some of these guys throw up until the very end.”
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