Left-handed Orioles John means recently suffered a back strain, with general manager Mike Elias relaying the news to reporters, including Andy Kostka of The Baltimore Banner (Twitter link).
Means, 30, underwent Tommy John surgery last April and was on the 60-day injured list. It has been known that he will not be available for Orioles in the early parts of this season but this new issue will push his timeline even further. “We still very much hope to bring him back this season,” Elias said. “But this will obviously slow things down and settle for a while before we really see him in the games.” Elias says a July return is unlikely, meaning it will be months before he returns.
It’s an unfortunate development as Means was previously one of the few bright spots on Baltimore’s list during their dismal rebuilding years. He has 356 2/3 career plays with 3.81 ERA. His 21.2% hit rate is actually a bit below average, but he combines that with strong control, as shown by his 5% walk rate. .
The club are now showing that those bad years are a thing of the past, as they made a stellar 33-17 start here in 2023. Still, the starting rotation is as outstanding as it was. one area could use some improvement. The Baltimore starters have a collective 4.76 ERA this year, a mark that puts them 21st out of 30 clubs in the league.
Putting Means back into the mix could give them a stabilizing effect but that will have to wait for now. His continued progress over the next few months could perhaps have an impact on how the club approaches the trade deadline, i.e. on 1 August this year. If the south looks like he’s coming back at that point, they probably feel less urgent to splurge on additional spins, but the opposite could also be true.
Means had yet to pay his referee salary last year at the time of his surgery. Shortly after the cutlery, he and the club agreed to a two-year, $5.925 million deal for both last year and this season. He will qualify as a referee again for the 2024 season, after which he will have free agency. The kind of pay rise he can ask for will be influenced by when he can return and his form.
Elsewhere on Orioles’ list, the right-handed person Dillon Tate has been dealing with a tight stretch since November and has yet to make the list of majors this year. He has been pitching the minors on a rehabilitation mission for the past month but won’t be joining the major league club any time soon. Elias says Tate has a stress response in his elbow, a different area from his flexor tendon injury, per Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com. Right-handed people will stay off until the problem is over before going on another detox task.
The 29-year-old posted a solid 3.05 ERA last year in 73 2/3 innings for the O’s. He hits 20.5% of hitters, walks 5.5% and lands with 57.4% of balls in play. He hit umpire for the first time this winter and made $1.5 million this year. He could be retained through refereeing for two more seasons before he is expected to go to free agency after 2025.