HomeMLB RumorsOrioles Notes: Means, Suarez, Perez, McKenna

Orioles Notes: Means, Suarez, Perez, McKenna

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The Orioles could soon welcome John Means back for his season debut. Manager Brandon Hyde told reporters yesterday the O’s were considering activating Means to start on Sunday against the A’s (X link via the Baltimore Sun’s Matt Weyrich). The left-hander has been on the injured list all year, as the team opted to build him up slowly this spring. While Means made four starts late last year in his return from Tommy John surgery, he experienced residual elbow soreness that kept him off the postseason roster.

Means would likely have found himself on some kind of innings limit after throwing 31 2/3 combined frames between 2022-23. With that in mind, the O’s opted against pushing him this spring. The 2019 All-Star has started five games at Triple-A Norfolk on a rehab stint. The results have not been good, as he’s allowed 18 runs over 11 2/3 innings. The O’s probably aren’t especially concerned, though, as the southpaw’s primary focus has been building his workload. He got to 79 pitches over 4 1/3 innings on Tuesday.

If Baltimore decides to give Means one more rehab appearance, righty Albert Suárez would likely take the ball on Sunday. The 34-year-old has twirled 11 1/3 scoreless innings in two starts since the O’s selected his contract last week. Suárez couldn’t have asked for much better in his return to the big leagues for the first time in seven years. Whether it’ll be enough to hold a roster spot once Means is ready isn’t clear, but Suárez has outpitched fellow back-end arms Dean Kremer and Cole Irvin in a very limited look.

Despite the long layoff between his big league appearances, Suárez is out of options. Baltimore can’t send him back to Norfolk without first exposing him to waivers. Irvin is also out of options, but the O’s could theoretically send Kremer down if they want to ensure all three pitchers stay in the organization.

They could also nudge one of those players to the bullpen. Baltimore’s roster flexibility is limited in that regard as well, though. Five of the eight current members of their bullpen — Craig KimbrelDanny CoulombeMike BaumannJacob Webb and recent trade pickup Yohan Ramírez — can’t be sent down. Neither Yennier Cano nor Keegan Akin are going to be optioned. Unless the O’s were to option grounder specialist Dillon Tate, they could soon need to DFA one of their out-of-options arms.

That might happen once lefty Cionel Pérez returns to the big league club. He landed on the 15-day IL with a moderate oblique strain shortly after Opening Day. The Orioles sent him to Norfolk on a rehab stint yesterday, suggesting he’ll be back in the next week or two. Pérez, who is also out of options, turned in a 3.54 ERA behind a massive 60.7% ground-ball percentage over 53 1/3 innings last season.

The news out of Norfolk isn’t all injury related. Ryan McKenna was assigned outright after clearing waivers at the start of the regular season. Danielle Allentuck of the Baltimore Banner tweets that the career-long outfielder has started taking reps at second base in an effort to expand his defensive flexibility. While McKenna has not appeared there in a game yet, successfully acclimating to the infield could give him a better chance of cracking a loaded Baltimore bench at some point during the season.

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