Hyde on Akin, rotation, Means’ example, Stewart and more

Left-hander Keegan Akin joined the Orioles today after throwing 49 pitches for Triple-A Norfolk in Friday night’s start in Jacksonville and staying available for long relief duty this week.

Akin is working out of the bullpen, with no immediate plans to insert him into the rotation. Left-hander Zac Lowther was optioned to Norfolk this afternoon.

The Orioles needed a fresh arm and chose Akin, who didn’t break camp with the team after allowing 10 runs and issuing seven walks in nine exhibition innings. He could go three or four innings in relief, depending on pitch count, according to manager Brandon Hyde.

“With Friday and Saturday’s bullpen usage, we were short yesterday, kind of waiting for Akin today,” Hyde said in his Zoom call with the media.

Akin allowed two runs and two hits in Jacksonville with one walk and five strikeouts in two innings.

“I think he just threw OK in that two-inning start. I hope that being in the big leagues ramps up the intensity a little bit,” Hyde said.

“We saw what Akin can do last year. Saw him in a couple outings where he threw really, really well and really aggressive with his pitches in the strike zone, and that’s something we worked on in spring training. It was hit and miss a little bit in spring training and now he’s here and he’s just got to be aggressive in the zone.”

Left-hander John Means, the American League’s Player of the Week, is starting Tuesday night against the Mets at Citi Field and Matt Harvey makes his return to Queens for Wednesday afternoon’s game.

The Friday starter against the Yankees at Camden Yards is listed as TBA, but Hyde indicated that Dean Kremer is likely to get the assignment. Jorge López starts on Saturday and Means on Sunday, with an off-day later this week allowing the Orioles to stay with a four-man rotation.

Means-Hugs-After-No-Hitter-Sidebar.jpgMeans is the first Oriole to earn the honor since Trey Mancini in September 2019 and the first pitcher since Arthur Rhodes in August 1994. He’s setting a nice example in many ways for the young pitchers on the roster.

“It’s a conversation I had with Zac Lowther today after we sent him down was, we talked about Norfolk, we talked about him going down and I said a great example was John Means,” Hyde said. “The ability to locate your fastball to both sides of the plate, the ability to throw your fastball in and in off to right-handed hitters in this division, especially being a left-handed pitcher, is going to be key.

“I like Zac’s off-speed stuff. Meansie’s got the changeup, now he’s added a couple more weapons with two different breaking balls, but the ability to throw fastballs where you want to and be able to get into right-handed hitters, especially in this division, is going to be key. And J.A. Happ did it for a lot of years with different teams. You see (Eduardo) Rodriguez, he’s got the cutter to both sides that he’s got great command of. So being a left-hander in this division, Meansie is a great example of how to navigate through really difficult lineups with that kind of stuff.”

Said Means: “It’s pretty cool to be able to kind of talk to these guys and kind of lead them along the way. Just go over experiences. Not that I’m really teaching these guys anything new, but just to go over mentality and everything that comes with the big leagues that isn’t pitching. I think that has a lot more to do with it than people think.

“I think a lot of pitching is just mentality. All these guys have the stuff to be here, it’s just sticking around.”

Means is opposing Marcus Stroman on Tuesday. Harvey opposes Taijuan Walker the following day.

Outfielder DJ Stewart avoided a return to the injured list today. He was removed yesterday for a pinch-runner due to a strained left hamstring.

Ryan McKenna gets the start in right field tonight against Red Sox left-hander Martín Pérez. Stewart isn’t expected to play.

“Feeling better today,” Hyde said. “Soreness has gone down a little bit. He’s possible being available off the bench, but I’m going to try to stay away from him today altogether.”

Norfolk outfielder Yusniel Diaz is day-to-day after suffering a leg injury yesterday following an RBI double in the ninth inning and needing assistance leaving the field.

Early word was that Diaz felt discomfort in his thigh/upper leg. A decision on the injured list will be made in the next few days.

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