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Orioles’ John Means ‘absolutely’ expects to pitch in 2023 despite setback in Tommy John recovery – The Denver Post

Orioles left-hander John Means was following his typical pitching routine before an extended spring training game, slamming a medicine ball against a wall to activate his upper body.

But on the last pitch, Means “just kind of wanted to go a little hard,” he said Sunday morning in the Orioles clubhouse at Camden Yards, only to feel a tug in his upper back. . Having had shoulder issues in the past and struggling to resolve them throughout her recovery from Tommy John elbow reconstruction surgery, Means said her first thought was, “Are you kidding me? ” The injury – a pulled teres major muscle in the scapula region – was found to be unrelated to his previous ailments, but it will prevent Means, the organization’s top starting pitcher for much of his rebuild, from back from his elbow surgery in July. as expected.

When asked if August was now the target, Means replied, “Something like that,” saying he will “absolutely” pitch for Baltimore at some point this year.

“It’s just one of those things that you have to let cool down before you start rebuilding again,” Means said. “We’re just going to let it cool down here and then start to rebuild, and that shouldn’t set me back for too long.”

In 2019, Means was the Orioles’ only All-Star representative and finished second in the American League Rookie of the Year voting. In that campaign and the next three, Means posted a 3.72 ERA in 69 games, including 65 starts. On May 5, 2021, he threw the fourth solo no-hitter in Orioles history, knocking out 12 Seattle Mariners with the lone batter reaching a dropped third strike. Baltimore’s opening day starter in 2021 and 2022, he left his second start of the past season with a forearm injury that was the result of a torn ulnar collateral ligament in his elbow and required end-of-season surgery. In 2019 and 2021, Means spent time on the injured list with left shoulder conditions, but he said that injury was “in the muscle belly” and unrelated.

“Disappointing, obviously, but at least it’s not a throwing injury or anything like that,” Means said. “But at the same time, it makes things a little more frustrating.”

The 30-year-old was expected to give a midseason boost to a rotation that entered Sunday’s series finale with the Texas Rangers with the eighth-highest ERA in the majors while tied for fourth-fewest wins over replacement, according to FanGraphs. Means reiterated on Sunday how impressed he is with what the Orioles have done without him, going 33-19, the third-best of the majors, but he also aspires to be a full part of it.

“It’s been tough,” Means said. “And obviously the last year and a half has been tough mentally and now, to add that, I’ve been through tougher before. It’s one of those things that I’m learning more than ever. We’ll just take it and roll with and see what happens.

Means said he was able to exercise his lower body and core, but would avoid throws and most upper body work as the tension recovers. He said the injury didn’t bother him unless he pulled something, setting an example of putting on socks.

Orioles manager Brandon Hyde reiterated executive vice president and general manager Mike Elias that Means’ setback will delay his return, but not dramatically.

“I feel bad for him,” Hyde said. “I think we’re lucky and hopefully it won’t be too long past his original recovery date anyway, but I know he was looking forward to getting back there and getting his rehab started and he just has to wait a bit now. But it was great to see him, great to see him here and to love having him with me.

It also means enjoying being there. As one of the few players to have appeared in each of Baltimore’s rebuilding seasons still with the organization, he relishes the Orioles clubhouse vibe.

“It’s amazing,” Means said. “Just being in the clubhouse again and feeling the energy, it’s so different. It’s so good to see.


denverpost sports

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