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Orioles Ace John Means Undergoes Successful Tommy John Surgery, Elias Says

BALTIMORE (WJZ) -- Orioles ace John Means underwent successful ulnar collateral ligament surgery, also known as Tommy John surgery, in Dallas on Wednesday, said executive vice president and general manager Mike Elias.

The timetable for recovery from the procedure, common among pitchers, is between 12 and 18 months, placing Mean's return sometime around the middle of the 2023 season.

"If history and John's worth ethic is any guide, he'll be back as good as ever, if not better than ever, and we really look forward to having him back on the team next year," said Elias.

The southpaw pitcher, who turned 29 on Sunday, left his April 14 start against the Milwaukee Brewers after pitching 4 innings with what the team initially described as left forearm tightness.

On April 17, the team placed Means on the 60-day injured list with a left elbow strain. Means posted a statement six days later saying multiple MRIs confirmed he needed the surgery, suggesting there was a tear in his ulnar collateral ligament.

"I'm obviously disappointed, but more motivated than ever," he said, signing off "I'll be back, Go O's."

Dr. Keith Meister performed the surgery.

Elias said Means is living in Dallas and will be able to meet with Meister to monitor how his elbow is progressing.

He'll come back to Baltimore, perhaps during the next homestand, to meet with the team's training staff and discuss rehabilitation. And when Means is ready for physical activity, particularly in the fall and winter, he'll report to the team's spring training complex in Sarasota, Elias said.

In five years with the Orioles, Means is 20-24 with a 3.81 ERA. Last year, a season highlighted by a no-hitter against the Seattle Mariners on May 5, he led the staff with 146 2/3 innings pitched, despite missing about six weeks with a shoulder injury.

For the next two games in New York against the Yankees, the ballclub is taking an "all-hands-on-deck approach" with the pitching staff before deciding who will take Means' place in the rotation, he said.

Tyler Wells, who is stretching out as a starter this season after spending all of 2021 in the bullpen, is scheduled to pitch tonight's game, followed by Bruce Zimmermann on Thursday.

Among the candidates is 25-year-old Kyle Bradish, owner of a 1.20 ERA in three starts with the Triple-A Norfolk Tides.

"Well, I think anybody in our Triple-A who's pitching well, and pitching as well as Kyle is, has put themselves in good contention for joining this rotation," Elias said.

With Bradish and Grayson Rodriguez knocking on the door in Norfolk, top prospect D.L. Hall beginning a rehab assignment with the High-A Aberdeen Ironbirds on Friday, and the thought of a healthy Means coming back next year, Elias was asked for his outlook on the pitching staff of the future.

Mean's injury shows pitching can be fragile, but with the prospects approaching the majors and guys like Keegan Akin, Mike Baumann and Dean Kremer still in the mix to start games, Elias said he has hope.

"I feel like the talent's there," he said. "We just got to get luck and keep all these guys together and get them performing. It would be very special, I think, to have any 3, 4, 5 of these guys clicking at the same time in an Orioles rotation. We're doing our damnedest to try to get that to be the case, but it's never easy."

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