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John Means’ first spring training start ‘felt really good’ despite shaky statline

John Means’ first spring training start ‘felt really good’ despite shaky statline

SARASOTA, FL. — John Means first outing of the spring doesn’t look strong on paper. 

He threw 39 pitches — 25 strikes — in 1.1 innings and allowed three hits and two earned runs. He struck out three and left the game against the Rays with runners on first and second. 

More importantly, Means felt strongly about his first game experience of the 2020 season, one where he enters with the most solidified role of his professional career. 

“In spring training you’re not so worried about results,” Means said. “You’re really just worried about how you feel, how the ball’s coming out, how hitters are reacting. I honestly felt really good. I felt the Fastball was there, changeup was there, curveball was there. So I definitely feel better than the two runs.”

Means wasn’t afraid to mix in off-speed pitches at any time during an at-bat and threw a fastball that sat around 92 miles an hour, topping out at 93 on the gun. 

His start might’ve gone better if it weren’t for windy conditions at Ed Smith Stadium. A deep fly ball, credited as a triple, got caught in the wind and Orioles left-fielder Dwight Smith Jr. was helpless.

“It is what it is, these winds are howling out here,” Means explained.

Means has a solid role on the Orioles this season, a far cry from last season’s struggle to stand out. The left-hander made the club at the end of spring training, became the Orioles' lone All-Star and finished second in AL Rookie of the Year voting.

“This year is a lot different from last year,” Means said. “Last year, my first outing was one inning and it kind of honestly went like that where I felt really good, but I gave up a couple runs. But this year, I’m trying to ease a little bit further back into it. I have a role now, so I’m kind of easing into starting and trying to feel the pitches out when last year I was trying to make a statement.”

He started 27 games last season and threw 155 innings in the most productive 2019 season from an Orioles pitcher. He posted a 3.60 ERA and allowed 138 hits with a 1.135 WHIP.

Last season, he was fighting for his job in the major leagues. Now, he’s got a permanent role atop the Orioles rotation. That’s something he hopes can lead to a more consistent approach in a role that’s decidedly different from the one he held a year ago.

“Just be more consistent,” Means said. “Last year I gave up a home run every game there for a stretch. Just being more consistent, attack hitters and consistency comes with your time in the game.”

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Orioles relief pitcher Richard Bleier caters meals for ER staff at Florida hospital

Orioles relief pitcher Richard Bleier caters meals for ER staff at Florida hospital

Orioles relief pitcher Richard Bleier is giving back to his home community during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

Bleier catered lunch for the Emergency Room staff at Wellington Regional Medical Center in Florida’s Palm Beach County on Wednesday.

“Much respect to the nurses, doctors, medical staff, and everyone else working extremely hard in all the hospitals around the country to help people,” Bleier said in the Instagram post. “A small gesture compared to what they are doing on a daily basis. I hope everyone who is in a position to help someone else does so in this time of need. We will all get through this together [six feet away from each other of course].”

Major League Baseball has yet to set a return date for the 2020 regular season, and there doesn’t appear to be a set timeline for the season to be played. 

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Orioles' Chris Davis on the future of MLB 2020 season

Orioles' Chris Davis on the future of MLB 2020 season

Chris Davis has played a game without fans before. He doesn’t want to go back to that again unless he has to.

Davis, who played in the 2015 fan-less game between the Orioles and White Sox at Camden Yards in the aftermath of the Baltimore Riots, is aware of the unique circumstances those games can present.

“I think it’s something that I’ve prepared myself for, hoping that we wouldn’t necessarily have to do that,” Davis said Tuesday on a conference call with reporters. “I think at this point, there are a lot of possibilities, a lot of different scenarios that are on the table, just as far as a logistics standpoint is concerned. Obviously I would love to play as many games as possible, but I also want people to be safe.”

Major League Baseball has yet to set a return date for the 2020 regular season, and there doesn’t appear to be a concrete timeline either for baseball to be played. 

One possibility is to begin the season without fans at the ballparks to minimize the risk of spreading coronavirus. A big part of that, admittedly, is gaining confidence from both players and fans.

“I want people to feel comfortable being around other people, being around other fans at the ballpark and I want the guys to feel safe on the field,” Davis said. “I don’t look forward to doing that, but I feel like we’re going to have to do some things that are a little unfamiliar, at least for the foreseeable future. We’ve talked about it, it’s definitely a possibility.”

Davis, who said he’s confident he can pick up where he left off in spring training after a hot start to the season, is now just waiting for baseball games to be played, just like everyone else. 

The best-case scenario though, for him and everyone else, is to have the ballparks filled when baseball returns.

“It’s been extremely uplifting to hear the amount of people that are just in love with the game of baseball, they’re infatuated with it,” Davis said. “They’re ready to see guys out on the field again. I just know that once we get everything squared away and we get kind of a handle on everything, there are going to be a bunch of smiling faces in the ballpark. And I look forward to that day.”

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