Orioles manager Brandon Hyde named John Means as the team’s starter for its opening night game on July 24 against the Boston Red Sox in Fenway Park.
The choice had been expected. Means pitched five innings in Thursday’s night’s intrasquad game—15 days ahead of the opener. Hyde said that the left-hander will pitch in the Orioles’ first exhibition game on July 19 at Philadelphia.
Means, who was the Orioles’ representative in last year’s All-Star Game, was 12-11 with a 3.60 ERA and finished second in the voting for the American League Rookie of the Year.
Hyde said last year’s performance was the most important factor in his decision.
“For a guy to do what he did,” Hyde said. “It’s a great story, coming out of spring training, barely making the club and having some really impressive relief appearances, and the next thing you know, he’s in our rotation and making an All-Star Game.
“He really finished the season strong, too. He’s definitely earned it, and we’re really excited to watch him pitch on the 24th.”
In September 2018, the Orioles were short on arms and, in the last week of the season, called Means to join the club in Boston. He made his major league debut on September 26, allowing five runs on six hits in 3 1/3 innings.
During that offseason Means worried that he would be cut from the team’s 40-man roster. Not only did he remain, he made the team when few, including himself, didn’t think he would.
Hyde said that Means was excited to hear the news on Thursday but didn’t go wild.
“It was pretty straightforward,” Hyde said. “I think John’s all business. I think he had a little smile. I think once it sinks in, it’s going to become a little more special for him.”
Hyde hadn’t told Means that he would be the team’s Opening Day starter when spring training was canceled on March 12, two weeks before the season was scheduled to start before Covid-19 shut everything down. Means threw just 4 1/3 innings in two Grapefruit League starts.
“Hearing it for me, it was good to see his face light up,” Hyde said of their conversation. “I know that as it gets closer to that day, it’s going to really special. It’s always a good feeling to tell people good news.”
Hyde said there was a good chance right-hander Alex Cobb would start the second game of the 60-game season on July 25.
Odds and ends: Hyde said that left-handed pitcher Ty Blach, who came out of Thursday night’s intrasquad game prematurely, was being examined because of elbow soreness . … Catchers Adley Rutschman and Taylor Davis, left-hander Keegan Akin and right-handers Michael Baumann and Isaac Mattson will join the Orioles for their workouts. Left-hander DL Hall is also likely to join the team soon. All are expected to be assigned to the team’s alternate site, likely in Bowie, when that opens.