BALTIMORE—It’s the night the Orioles have been waiting for ever since John Means had Tommy John surgery in April 2022.
“I just saw him in the clubhouse,” manager Brandon Hyde said. “He looked super focused. I’m sure he’s going to have a ton of nerves. What a cool story. He’s had to deal with a lot these past  months, and to finally get out there tonight will be a special moment for him. We’re all excited about watching him.”
Means will oppose the St. Louis Cardinals’ longtime great, Adam Wainwright, who’ll be retiring after this season.
“I’m hoping for the best. We could really use some innings right now,” Hyde said. “The way the starting pitching’s been the last few days, our bullpen has pitched a lot of innings. I’m hoping he can get us until at least the middle part of the game and pitch well and hope we can piece it together after that.
“We feel comfortable with how he’s built up, all the progress he’s made and work he’s done to get to this point. Hopefully, it’s not going to be a short start, that’s he’s built up as a starter.”
Hyde knows Means needs to have his ‘out’ pitch available.
“I’m hoping he has that changeup because the changeup is so good and it’s so good when he’s healthy,” Hyde said. “That was his signature pitch in ’19, the pitch that put him on the map, and the pitch that really pushed us to put him in the rotation.”
Means was put in the rotation after throwing three times in relief.
“That was when you noticed this guy’s got a different level pitch,” Hyde said. “Hopefully, he can get back to that level soon. He was throwing the ball well in his rehab starts. We’ll see how it comes out of his hand tonight.”
James McCann will catch Means. Neither McCann nor Adley Rutschman has caught Means in a game.
“They do their homework. They’ve talked to him,” Hyde said. “McCann’s been around for a while, so he’s caught a lot of guys he hasn’t caught before. This is nothing new. We’ll be on the same page.”
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