Rookie pitcher John Means walked into manager Brandon Hyde’s office Sunday and got the news he has waited for since he signed with the Orioles out of West Virginia University in 2014.
“He called me into his office, pointed to the board and said, ‘You’re starting Tuesday,’ ” Means said Monday afternoon. “He just wanted me to give whatever I could and that outing the other day was basically my bullpen [session].”
The 25-year-old left-hander made one appearance at the major league level last year and it didn’t go all that well. He pitched 3 1/3 innings in a long relief stint and gave up five earned runs.
This year, he made the club out of spring training and has made three relief appearances, but he also has made a dramatically different second impression. He drove the New York Yankees to distraction with his nasty changeup in his 2019 debut at Yankee Stadium and got the decision in the Orioles’ second victory of that three-game series.
He has pitched two more times since and has allowed just one earned run over 5 2/3 innings in his three relief appearances. Tuesday, he’ll get a spot start and a chance to show that he might be a rotation option later in the season.
“I was excited they have that kind of trust in me to start the game and obviously that’s what I’ve done my whole career,’’ Means said. “So, I’ll be no [stranger] to it.”
Karns on regular bullpen role
Right-hander Nate Karns has made two starts already, but only in what amounted to a pair of “opener” appearances. The original plan when he came into camp was to stretch him into rotation role, but Hyde said over the weekend that he’ll be used as a reliever for the foreseeable future.
Karns said on Monday that he’s okay with that. He’s not ready to stretch out sufficiently to be a regular starter and is more interested in doing everything possible to stay healthy all season after missing so much time because injuries the past couple of years.
“Until I can get stretched out, I don’t think there’s going to be a legitimate start,” Karns said. “Maybe another opener. Right now, I think what we’re doing is being wise. I missed a year and a half, so right now I’m staying healthy, making a couple appearances, so right now it’s just trying to find a position that’s going to help the team win.
“And then, as the season develops, that may change or may not change, but right now it’s what’s working and we’re trying to solidify some positions in the pen. Anything I can do.”
Karns said he has felt fine since shaking off some arm fatigue early in spring training. It’s just a matter continuing to build arm strength so he can be available as much as possible..
“I feel good,” he said. “It’s one of those things where we’re trying to keep that going. It’s one of those things where, do we want to add more to the workload and then it costs me on the back end? Right now, if it’s not broke, don’t fix it.”
Hyde on Hanser Alberto
Hyde had good things to say all spring about utilityman Hanser Alberto, who was designated for assignment four times since last season and still won a place on the Orioles roster. Alberto has paid him back by batting .500 through his first six games and saving the bullpen by pitching in Sunday’s 15-3 loss.
“Hanser enjoys playing the game and that’s clear when he’s playing,” Hyde said. “You can see the little mannerisms in the box. None of that is show. That’s actually him. He just really loves to compete. Plays the game like he’s in Little League, for the fun of it.
“That’s why he’s a pleasure to have around. That’s why he plays easy. That’s why he can play multiple positions. That’s why I had confidence throwing him out there in a terrible spot in the ninth inning yesterday…I just love his makeup, his attitude, everything about him.”
Pedro Araujo assigned to Double-A
Rule 5 pitcher Pedro Araujo was assigned to Double-A Bowie after being designated for assignment, offered around the majors, cleared waivers and outrighted off the 40-man roster.