Orioles hope to have Bradish, Means back “early in the first half” of 2024

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SARASOTA, Fla. — Lost in the reaction to the Orioles sending top prospect Jackson Holliday to the minors on Friday was another positive update on starting pitcher Kyle Bradish. 

The 27-year-old right-hander who finished fourth in AL Cy Young Award voting last year will begin the season on the 15-day injured list with a sprained ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow, but general manager Mike Elias said Bradish continues to make good progress in a throwing program that began in mid-February. The hope is for both Bradish and left-hander John Means to return “early in the first half of the season,” according to Elias.

“When I talked about [Bradish] at the beginning of camp, I said everything is pointing in the right direction and moving in the right direction. Thankfully, that still is exactly the case,” Elias said. “Now, we’re six, seven weeks later, and he’s checked more boxes. This is not going to be over until it’s over. This is a whole rehab process that we’ve got to complete, but things continue to be pointed in the right direction as they have since Day 1 of this camp. 

“Now that we’ve banked all this time and a couple benchmarks, I feel even better about it.” 

Bradish’s elbow has responded well to recent bullpen sessions consisting of him throwing mostly fastballs, so the bigger test will come when he is consistently throwing his full assortment of pitches and advances to more competitive pitching environments such as simulated games and a minor-league rehab assignment. The Game 1 starter of the AL Division Series pitched to a superb 2.83 ERA over 168 2/3 innings in his first full season in the big leagues last year. 

With Bradish and Means both starting the season on the IL, the Orioles have placed right-hander Tyler Wells and lefty Cole Irvin in the rotation, but Elias wouldn’t specify whether he continues to look for starting pitching upgrades. Of course, the Feb. 1 acquisition of ace Corbin Burnes was one of the biggest moves of the entire major league offseason, and expectations remain high for 24-year-old right-hander Grayson Rodriguez after a strong finish to his rookie season. 


“I think the rotation that we’ve set is a quality one,” Elias said. “You’ve got five guys who have logged innings, experienced success at the major league level. You’ve got a Cy Young [winner] in Corbin Burnes. We’ve got a lefty in the rotation, so I think that’s a nice looking rotation. I think we’ve got two guys, Bradish and Means, who are convalescing and on their way to be reinforcements. And we’ve got depth in the minors now too.”

Elias mentioned Triple-A Norfolk left-hander Bruce Zimmermann’s experience as well as pitching prospects such as lefty Cade Povch and right-handers Chayce McDermott and Seth Johnson “moving their way up the ladder” to potentially become factors later in the season. 

The Baltimore executive also went out of his way to say 34-year-old Albert Suarez is “looking like a hell of a signing” out of Korea after the right-hander struck out 19 batters and walked two while posting a 5.17 ERA in 15 2/3 innings in the Grapefruit League. Out of the major leagues since 2017, Suarez was reassigned to minor league camp on Friday and will begin the 2024 season in the Norfolk rotation. 

“I want to stress again that when we set an end-of-camp roster, this isn’t something that we view through an indefinite, permanent lens,” Elias said. “This is, ‘How do we best deploy the players in our organization for those upcoming first series? How do we retain talent?’ There’s a lot that goes into it. If you’re a player, it can be hard because management and the coaching staff and front office are looking at the big picture, the whole organization, and the long season ahead. 

“Everybody’s been here working their tails off all camp to try to make the team, but this is not the end-all, be-all of the season.” 

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