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Orioles place John Means on bereavement list; All-Star lefty questionable for next start

The Orioles placed John Means on the bereavement list Wednesday, with manager Brandon Hyde saying he was unsure whether the All-Star left-hander would rejoin the team in time to make his next start.

“He’s dealing with a family matter,” Hyde said. “We’re gonna give him some space and some time.”

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Means’ wife, Caroline, announced Friday that Means’ father, Alan, died Wednesday after a year-long battle with pancreatic cancer at age 57.

“Words cannot express how difficult this time has been. Alan was larger than life and we absolutely adored him,” she wrote on Twitter.

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The Orioles shared a photo of Means and his father dressed in Orioles uniforms during a game in Kansas City last season. Means grew up in Olathe, Kansas.

“Sending the whole Means family love from Birdland,” the Orioles wrote.

A player can be placed on the bereavement list when there is a death in his immediate family. He must remain on the bereavement list for at least three days but no more than seven.

Means started the Orioles’ series opener with the Miami Marlins on Tuesday, allowing one run in 4⅔ innings as he continued to build up after beginning the season on the injured list with arm fatigue. His next scheduled start, based on regular rest, would be Sunday.

The Orioles did not make a corresponding move to fill Means’ place on the roster ahead of Wednesday’s doubleheader against the Marlins, with both games slated for seven innings. Teams are required to reduce their rosters from 30 players to 28 on Thursday.

“We’re going with what we have,” Hyde said.

Means got roughed up in his first start of 2020 last week against the New York Yankees, but he showed off increased velocity, which he said was the result of working on driving his body toward home plate by throwing into a mattress during quarantine.

Through two starts, Means is averaging 94.8 mph on his fastball, an increase of more than 3 mph from his All-Star 2019 season, among the highest velocity spikes in the league. His changeup and curveball have also increased by about 4 mph, per Statcast.

Since allowing a grand slam to New York’s Luke Voit six batters into his season, Means has pitched 6⅔ innings, allowing three hits, no walks and a run while striking out six.

“I’m really surprised at the 95, 96 that you’re seeing on the board,” Hyde said. “It’s firm from the side, too. He’s got a really nice fastball going right now. As much as I think that’s important, I think the key really is his changeup. I think his changeup was a little bit better last night. He threw some good ones. That changeup was in that 10, 11 mph range difference from his fastball.

“John’s a big, strong guy. He’s put a lot of work in. You do see guys increase their velocity and are able to hold it for a while, and I think John’s gonna be able to do that.”

Around the horn

  • Shortstop José Iglesias, who didn’t start the past five games with a sore left quadriceps, was back in the lineup for the first game of Wednesday’s doubleheader, batting third as the designated hitter.
  • With the doubleheader and Means’ absence leaving some holes in the Orioles’ rotation, Hyde said right-hander Thomas Eshelman is a candidate to start one of this weekend’s games at the Washington Nationals.

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