John Means wasn’t surprised that he didn’t pitch in Tuesday’s All-Star Game, the lone Orioles representative unable to get back on the field until the final out of the American League’s 4-3 win. He knew how his night would play out.
AL manager Alex Cora kept Means in the loop as well as the bullpen.
“I knew before the game I was extra innings,” Means said earlier today. “He brought me in and was like, ‘I’ve got to plan out 15 innings. I know you’re a starter, you can go longer, so you’re probably going to be the extra innings guy. If it doesn’t look like it’s going to extra innings, I’ll try to get you in.’ But obviously the game was close the whole time.
“It doesn’t faze me too much. Being there, being in that clubhouse with those guys is all the experience that I need. Obviously it would have been cool to get in the game, but honestly I feel like being an All-Star is about being with all the other guys.”
Means squeezed as much enjoyment out of the two days as he could, his failure to get on the mound never coming close to ruining it.
“It was a blast,” he said. “It was a whirlwind and it all happened pretty fast, but just being around my family, my fiancé, my friends, it was a cool experience.”
His All-Star moment, the one that really made him step back and appreciate the opportunity and his surroundings, occurred away from the crowd and the media.
“I think just kind of sitting and eating dinner and being around these guys, having conversations,” he said. “Me and CC Sabathia talked for a while, me and Hunter Pence talked for a while. It was just being around those guys that have been around the game for a long time was a really cool experience.”
There were other snapshots that Means will cherish, ones that won’t ever be erased from his memory.
“During the Home Run Derby and when they’re introducing everybody, it was just kind of a surreal moment, with the flyover and all the screaming fans. You don’t really have that feeling very often,” he said.
“I just tried to be present, be present in the moment. Just bounce things off guys, talk to guys that have been doing it for a while.”
Means didn’t seek out advice on pitching from his esteemed colleagues.
“Just the winning mentality,” he said. “That’s what me and CC were talking about for a little while. He was telling me about it because he was kind of part of a rebuild and he was part of a World Series team. The differences between it and what he’s learned on the path he’s been on.”
Now it’s back to regular season business for Means, who’s starting Game 2 of Saturday’s doubleheader against the Rays.
“It was a good time and now I’m excited to get back to the second half, having that experience under my belt,” he said.
* Aaron Brooks will become the 47th player used by the Orioles and the 15th starter when he takes the mound Saturday for Game 1 of the doubleheader. They used 14 starters in 2018.
Brooks also will be the 31st Oriole to pitch, breaking last year’s club record of 30.
“Excited. Always excited for a new opportunity,” he said. “Coming over to help any team as much as I can to get wins,” he said.
* Nate Karns lasted two-thirds of an inning today in his rehab start with Single-A Frederick. He allowed three runs and two hits with three walks. He threw 35 pitches, 19 for strikes.
Update: Dylan Bundy allowed a season high seven runs in the first inning as the Rays sent 11 batters to the plate and forced him to throw 37 pitches. Tommy Pham homered with one out to start the scoring. The Rays also had four doubles and Bundy threw a wild pitch and balked.
Update II: Nate Lowe hit a two-run homer off Gabriel Ynoa in the second inning for a 9-0 lead.
Update IV: Renato Núńez hit his 21st home run to reduce the lead to 10-2 in the fourth.
Update V: Villar’s second error of the night and 15th of the season produced another unearned run off Ynoa in the sixth.
Update VI: Ynoa was charged with five more runs in the seventh, two after Asher Wojciechowski replaced him, and the Rays lead 16-2.