NEW YORK—Orioles pitcher John Means had Tommy John surgery in Dallas on Wednesday morning. Dr. Keith Meister performed the surgery and, according to Orioles executive vice president/general manager Mike Elias, it went well.
Elias said Means probably will return to Baltimore to begin his rehabilitation, which will take at least 12 months.
“We think he’ll be back at some point in 2023,” Elias said in a video conference call. “If John’s work ethic is any guide, he’ll be back as good as ever, if not better than ever, and we look forward to having him back on the team next year.”
Elias said that recovery from Tommy John surgery can take as long as 18 months. “I’m optimistic that we get him back in the first half of 2023,” Elias said.
Means lives in Dallas, and he’ll be able to do rehab work there, in Baltimore and in Sarasota.
With the loss of Means and, for now, Chris Ellis, who was placed on the 10-day injured list because of right shoulder inflammation, there’s speculation that the Orioles will recall right-hander Kyle Bradish from Triple-A Norfolk to start on Saturday against Boston. Bradish, 25, who was one of four pitchers acquired from the Angels in the trade for Dylan Bundy, was held out of his scheduled start on Wednesday for Norfolk.
“I think anybody in our Triple-A who’s pitching well, pitching as well as Kyle is has put themselves in good contention for joining this rotation,” Elias said. “Up until the Ellis injury, we had five starters that were going pretty going pretty good. We’re in a situation now where our focus is on the next couple of games here versus the Yankees, which is kind of an all-hands-on-deck approach to the pitching staff.
“Once we get through this next couple of games, we’ll take a look at who’s rested on the major league roster and see what we do with that fifth rotation spot going forward. Certainly, he and other people have put themselves on the radar for helping the staff this year.”
On April 8th, the Orioles signed Matt Harvey, who led the team in starts in 2021, to a minor league contract. Harvey, who has already pitched in an extended spring game in Sarasota and will pitch in another on Thursday, was rumored to face a suspension for his testimony in the triall of Eric Kay. Harvey testified that he provided opioids to the late Los Angeles Angels pitcher Tyler Skaggs.
“He got a late jump in signing,” Elias said. “Therefore, we had to re-create a spring training experience for him … As far as we’re concerned, he’s a member of our organization. He’s on a minor league contract. When he’s ready, we’ll get him out of Florida and into affiliate play and we’ll take it as it comes from a baseball standpoint as his stuff and performance dictates.”
Elias declined to speculate on a possible suspension.
Left-hander DL Hall, who will start for High-A Aberdeen on Friday, is being watched carefully. Hall threw just one inning in a Grapefruit League game and spent the first two weeks of the major league season in Florida. He missed most of last season because of an elbow injury.
“We have a plan in place in terms of how long it may take him to get back to Bowie, which is where the injury happened last year,” Elias said. “We hope everything goes smoothly and we’re able to get him back there, but I think now it’s just about covering innings, throwing strikes, not having any injury setbacks. The stuff and velocity are certainly there, and I think we’ll see that on display on Friday.
“Once he’s back to being himself in Bowie, the guy’s on the 40-man roster. He’s got major league stuff. He hasn’t pitched in Triple-A, yet. There’s a few things he needs to show us from a performance and skill perspective that he just didn’t get around to doing. He didn’t get enough time to do it in 2021.
“We need to get this injury behind him first and foremost, and we also have to be mindful of what his workload is going to be with the goal that he stays up and running all year long. That will require some pacing in terms of the bullets that he’s firing and the innings that he’s racking up.”
Elias says that if things go well, Hall could pitch at least four innings on Friday.
Dean Kremer, who suffered an oblique injury warming up in the bullpen on April 10th at Tampa Bay, is in a throwing progression, Elias said.
“The oblique injury is on its way to being healed. Now it’s just building up and getting back to game shape. I think we’re probably a few weeks away from him being in the major league conversation, but I think the month of May will be in play.”
Rutschman nearly ready: Elias wouldn’t share a timetable for top prospect Adley Rutschman, who caught in his first rehab game at Aberdeen on Tuesday. He went 1-for-2, with a double, a walk and a run scored. Rutschman will be the designated hitter for the IronBirds on Wednesday night. He’s rehabbing a strained right triceps muscle and missed all of major league spring training.
“We’re very pleased that he’s back out in Aberdeen, and he’ll be working his way back up the ladder soon, picking up where he left off,” Elias said. “I can’t see a whole lot more that he probably needs to prove in the minor leagues.”
Notes: Manager Brandon Hyde said that first baseman Ryan Mountcastle isn’t in the lineup for Wednesday’s game against the Yankees because of a stiff neck. He’ll be available for pinch-hitting. … Hyde said that the decision on whether to keep a 14th pitcher, which is allowed between May 2nd and May 29th, will be a difficult one. Rosters will be cut from 28 to 26 players. “It’s nice that we have the option,” Hyde said. “We’re going to see where we are from a pitching standpoint on that day and throughout the month … It’s going to be a series-to-series decision. Hopefully, our starters can get some length and we can possibly keep an extra position player. We just don’t know right now.”