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Orioles lefty John Means placed on injured list with shoulder strain, insists he will not miss more than one start

SEATTLE — When the Orioles announced Thursday afternoon that promising rookie left-hander John Means had been placed on the injured list with a shoulder strain, it was fair to wonder what else could possibly go wrong during the team’s lengthy losing streak.

Means has been one of those pleasant surprises that can take some of the sting out of a difficult season, and having him go on the IL the day after top hitter Trey Mancini had to sit down with a badly bruised elbow only figured to add to the negative narrative.

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But Means would have none of that, insisting before Thursday’s game in Seattle that he will only miss one start and claiming that he has dealt with this exact situation before.

The Orioles pulled Dwight Smith Jr. off the injured list, designated Dan Straily for assignment, placed John Means on the IL and recalled Evan Phillips.

“I had it in college,’’ he said. “It was a strained deltoid. It’s strictly muscle. It’s nothing serious. It’s one of those things that gets tight and is uncomfortable and doesn’t feel good to throw, but once it loosens up it’s fine.”

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He was put on the IL retroactive to Monday, and when he was asked if he would be ready to return to the mound when that 10 day period ends June 26, he answered with one word.

“Easily.”

Means said the tightness surfaced in the last inning of his start against the Boston Red Sox on Sunday.

“I threw a pitch and it kind of tightened up on me. I ended up finishing and coming out. The next day, it was really tight. It’s just muscle. It’s nothing serious. It’s something we just don’t want lingering, so we’re going to take a start off and I’ll make the next one.”

He would have made his next start Friday, but instead will — by his own account — miss a pro start for the first time in his career.

The young Orioles were prepared for a losing season, but they are starting to feel the weight of an embarrassing one.

The season has been going so well for Means that he probably was tempted to keep the injury to himself. He finished that last inning against the Red Sox, but knew better than hide anything from the training staff.

“You don’t want to give that impression that you don’t want to pitch, you don’t want to fight through stuff,’’ he said. “That definitely not the way I am and the way I’ve been in my career. To miss starts, it’s something that I don’t do. It’s a little tough (to admit you’re hurt), but It was something I didn’t want to keep lingering or to keep getting worse.”

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