John Means was frustrated by his latest injury, and its timing.
He was having an All-Star caliber season before he was sidelined June 5th because of a strained left shoulder.
Means (4-2, 2.28 ERA) is expected to make his first appearance since the setback against the Tampa Bay Rays on Tuesday night.
“I was more frustrated that it had to happen,” Means said. “I didn’t really want to take time off. I wanted to try to make as many starts as I possibly could. Hopefully, one of these years I can make every start. I don’t want that to be my stigma is to get hurt halfway through. So just more frustrating that it had to happen but no point in thinking about it now. I’m just moving forward.”
Means dominated hitters in the early part of the season and threw a no-hitter May 5th against the Seattle Mariners. However, he allowed nine runs in his next three starts, covering 18 1/3 innings.
He was forced to leave against the Indians after facing just five batters June 5th because of shoulder tightness. He underwent an MRI that revealed a left shoulder strain that sidelined him for more than a month.
Means pitched three rehab games — for High-A Aberdeen, Double-A Bowie and Triple-A Norfolk, going 0-1 with a 5.63 ERA in eight innings. He’s ready to resume his role as the staff ace.
“Just go out there and try to pitch deep into the game, try to finish how I started,” Means said. “I felt really good, I feel really comfortable right now in what I’m doing and what I need to accomplish and so just to keep doing what I did in the first half.”
Means had the same injury in 2019. He also opened the 2020 season on the injured list because of shoulder fatigue. He is focused on preventing another injury by being more proactive with stretching the muscles in the shoulder.
“It’s just this one spot in the back of my shoulder,” Means said. “It’s a muscle that, since I throw so many changeups and I pronate so much that it gets a little tighter than most people.
“But it’s something that I need to take care of. It’s something that I didn’t, and I was just cruising there for so long and didn’t really want to change anything. I wanted to stay out of the training room as much as possible, but that was stupid on my part. And now I know that I’ve got to keep that up and keep that spot as loose as possible so the rest of the muscles aren’t doing too much.”
Manager Brandon Hyde is glad to have Means back in a starting rotation that has struggled to go deep into games. However, the goal is to keep Means healthy and monitor his pitch count in his first couple of outings.
“Once he gets settled back in after the first couple starts, I hope he does finish like he did last year,” Hyde said. “That was one of the better starting pitchers in the American League, and how he started this year, the same way.
“I just want him to get out there, be healthy the first couple of starts, feel good about how his shoulder feels, about how his pitches are coming along. It’s been a while, he hasn’t pitched in a while. We have two-plus months to go and I really want to keep him healthy for these last couple of months.”
Minor-league promotions: The Orioles promoted a number of minor-league players on Monday:
Outfielder Robert Neustrom, from Double-A Bowie to Triple-A Norfolk. Neustrom batted .284/.364/.467 with seven home runs and 50 RBIs. for the Baysox.
Right-handed pitcher Ryan Conroy, from High-A Aberdeen to Bowie. Conroy went 2-1 with four saves for the IronBirds. He had a 4.10 ERA in 16 appearances, including one start.
Outfielder Zach Watson, from Aberdeen to Bowie. Watson batted .249/.303/.442 with nine homers and 35 RBIs and 18 stolen bases for the IronBirds.
Outfielder Hudson Haskin, from Low-A Delmarva to Aberdeen. Haskin batted .276/.377/.415 with five homers, 23 RBIs and 17 stolen bases.
Right-handed pitcher Ignacio Feliz, from Delmarva to Aberdeen. Feliz went 4-0 with a 1.05 ERA in 12 games, including four starts. He also had two saves.
Right-handed pitcher Zach Peek, from Delmarva to Aberdeen. Peek went 2-3 with a 4.37 ERA in 13 games, including nine starts.
Right-handed pitcher Ryan Watson, from Delmarva to Aberdeen. Watson went 3-1 with a 2.14 ERA in 11 games, including three starts. He also has a save and a 0.92 WHIP.