Means slated to make more starts (and other notes, tied 5-5)

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. - Orioles left-hander John Means is available in the bullpen tonight and for Friday night’s series opener against the Twins at Camden Yards. However, he isn’t ticketed for exclusive relief duties.

Manager Brandon Hyde said Means is the likely choice to start April 26 in Minnesota following the off-day. Means could bounce back and forth between the rotation and bullpen.

“Means is still a starting option and he’s going to make a lot of starts,” Hyde said. “We’re going to mix him in. As of right now he’s going to the ‘pen for at least a few days.

“It’s a lot of factors. We have an off-day, I want to keep some guys on a normal schedule, but Means will be starting ... He’s going to be doing a little bit of both roles as we go forward. For the next few days be in the ‘pen and then we’re looking for him to make a start probably after the off-day.”

A starter won’t necessarily come out of the rotation for Means, but Hyde said he isn’t going with “a true six starters as of right now.” This is where creativity is needed to make it work, with Hyde picking his spots for Means.

Means-Throws-Gray-Sidebar.jpg“It’s going to be something we’re going to play with because I do like John on the mound in the rotation,” Hyde said.

“Obviously, he’s pitched really, really well and deserves to stay in the rotation. We’ve got five other starters, so we’re going to play with it a little bit. Play with the dates, play with the off-days. But he’s also pitched really well for us out of the ‘pen, so kind of allows us to have a long guy here the next few days and a guy we believe in coming out of the bullpen. But he should start after the off-day.”

Inserting Means in the rotation can allow other pitchers to get a breather, which the Orioles have done in past seasons.

“We can play with off-days to get guys rest,” Hyde said. “You can push a guy back a day by sliding him in. There are ways you can get creative by keeping him in the rotation.”

Hyde understands and appreciates the value of having some depth in the rotation. He’s happy to send Alex Cobb to the mound Friday in Means’ spot and also have Andrew Cashner, Dylan Bundy, Dan Straily and David Hess.

“Things happen all the time, so you want to have problems like this,” Hyde said. “You want to have guys you want to make decisions on and as of right now the decision is Means in the ‘pen for a few days and try to work him in the backend of the rotation in some capacity.”

Cobb is set to come off the injured list and make his second start now that his back spasms have subsided.

“It’s big for us, big for Alex,” Hyde said. “I know he’s itching to get back out there and we’re excited to see him out there. He’s made only one start for us so far. He’s obviously a really good starting pitcher and somebody we’re counting on and looking forward to seeing him pitch tomorrow.”

First baseman Chris Davis took some swings this afternoon and is feeling better after a stomach virus kept him out of the lineup for three consecutive games.

“Should be able to come off the bench if needed tonight,” Hyde said.

To follow up on this morning’s Austin Hays update, the young outfielder will start his hitting progression this weekend. The splint came off his left hand and he’s been doing range of motion and strengthening exercises since Monday.

“The last update I got was a couple days ago and it was that he was doing very well and should be starting to swing the bat here some point soon,” Hyde said. “So the last report I got was great news and he was healing.”

Update: Cashner fell behind 1-0 just two batters into his start when Austin Meadows doubled and scored on Tommy Pham’s single.

Update II: The Orioles took a 2-1 lead in the third inning on Renato Núñez’s RBI single and Joey Rickard’s infield hit, but Pham homered in the bottom half to tie the game 2-2.

Update III: Pedro Severino led off the fourth inning with his first Orioles home run to break the tie.

Update IV: Rickard tripled in the seventh and scored on Richie Martin’s single for a 4-2 lead.

Update V: Jonathan Villar scored on Dwight Smith Jr.’s sacrifice fly in the eighth to give the Orioles a 5-2 lead.

Update VI: Mike Zunino’s two-run double off Evan Phillips in the eighth reduced the lead to 5-4.

Update VII: Avisail Garcia homered off Mychal Givens with one out in the ninth to tie the game.

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