BALTIMORE—John Means walked into the Orioles’ clubhouse a few minutes before 4 p.m. on Tuesday and greeted some of his teammates who were eager to look at he brace the pitcher was wearing on his left arm.
On April 27th, Means had Tommy John surgery in Arlington, Texas, which was performed by Dr. Keith Meister. On Wednesday, he spoke about it for the first time.
“It’s going better than it’s supposed to be, and my range is way ahead of schedule,” Means said in front of his locker. “Three weeks in, we’ve got 12 months to go. Little victories here and there, so it feels good.”
Means was removed from the April 13th game against Milwaukee after four innings because what was described as left forearm tightness. When he spoke to reporters after the game, he said he didn’t think it was serious.
“We did a lot of tests with the forearm and movements and stuff,” Means said. “We did the MRI, then we did the dye test, and then we did another MRI, talked to a couple of doctors, and they said it was about 90 percent torn. It was a weird thing where it wasn’t the typical symptoms, it wasn’t the blowout, tingly fingers, it was a tight forearm. It was torn, and we had to get if fixed.”
Means’ 2022 season ended after just two starts. Now he’s rehabbing the arm.
“It’s different. I’ve never experienced being home … and I won’t experience being home for an entire summer,” Means said. “It’s more difficult than I thought it was going to be.
“It’s tough watching games and that sort of thing. You just want to be there. You want to be good or bad, whatever it is. You want to be there for your team, be a part of it. That part’s been hard, but I’m getting used to it. I’m going to come back as much as I can, be around the guys. I have a family. There’s a lot of other things I can worry about, too.”
On May 26th, Means’ arbitration case will be heard. He’s asked for $2 million as his 2022 salary; the Orioles have countered with $1.7 million. The hearing will be based on his 2021 stats when he went 6-9 with a 3.62 ERA and threw a no-hitter on May 5th. He seems to be more focused on staying connected to the team.
“I’m going to New York with the team,” Means said. “I’m going to come back for some long homestands and try to come at least once a month and be a part of the team.”
There’s no timetable for recovery from Tommy John surgery, which is done to repair a torn ulnar collateral ligament inside the elbow by replacing it with a tendon from elsewhere in the body.
“Not right now,” Means said. “I think you kind of have to feel it as it goes, and right now, I think it’s too early to say, but I’ll probably have a better idea in five or six months.
“There’s definitely a desire [to get back], and I’m definitely going to be working out like crazy to try to keep that competitive edge and all that. I’m looking forward to coming back … just another chink in the armor.”
Manager Brandon Hyde was delighted to see Means.
“It sounds like the surgery was very successful,” Hyde said. “It’s great to see him in the clubhouse. He was itching to get back and be around the guys. They’re looking forward to seeing him as well. It’s nice to see him around here, at least for a little while. I’m sure he’ll be back and forth this summer. He’s still a big part of our team, and it’s great to have him in the building.
“Our rotation, besides [Jordan] Lyles, is pretty inexperienced, somebody that’s had success, pitching in this division. It’s nice to have somebody to talk to those guys. He doesn’t have a ton of major league time, but he’s had a lot of success in a short major league career so far. He’s gone through a lot of stuff, and he’s a nice reference for those guys.”
Means is seeking advice from pitchers who’ve had Tommy John surgery. His teammate, Tyler Wells, had it in 2019.
“It’s so common now,” Means said. “The tough part of it is the mental side of it. It’s a marathon. It’s not a sprint. Battling with yourself every day, keeping that competition with rehab and with the workouts and things like that. I definitely have a good group of people around me. At the facility I’m working out, there’s plenty of guys, plenty of big leaguers that are basically doing the same thing.”
Follow Rich Dubroff on Twitter @RichDubroffMLB