O’s Kyle Bradish has sprained UCL; Gunnar Henderson, John Means also dealing with injuries

SARASOTA, Fla. (AP) — Orioles pitcher Kyle Bradish has a sprained UCL in his right elbow and is expected to miss opening day, and teammates Gunnar Henderson and John Means are also dealing with injuries as Baltimore opens spring training.

General manager Mike Elias revealed Bradish’s injury Thursday on the club’s official report date for pitchers and catchers.

The right-hander received Cy Young Award votes after a breakout 2023 season, in which he finished 12-7 with a 2.83 ERA over 30 starts. He was expected to slot behind newly acquired ace Corbin Burnes in Baltimore’s rotation.

“We had urgency all winter, even before (Bradish’s) flareup in January,” Elias said of acquiring a frontline starter. “I wouldn’t say it impacted our desire to add somebody like Corbin Burnes. That was on the wish list from Day 1.

“This is a demonstration of why you need a lot of starting pitchers. These things will happen. We’re very hopeful to get (Bradish) back and get all these guys on the field together at some point in 2024.”

Bradish was on hand Thursday and participated in non-throwing drills.

“Kyle started his throwing program in January, and in the course of that, he detected some irritation in his throwing elbow,” Elias said. “We got that treated with a PRP injection. The early returns are very encouraging and everything is in a really good spot right now.

Elias also said Means and Henderson would be limited during spring training.

Means is behind schedule from an elbow injury that forced him to miss last year’s AL Division Series, and Henderson is dealing with a “mild oblique aggravation.”

Henderson, last year’s AL Rookie of the Year, participated in limited team drills Thursday. The infielder could be held out of early spring games as a precaution.

“Hopefully, he doesn’t miss too much time at this camp,” Elias said, adding it could take 2-3 weeks for the oblique to heal. “At this point, we don’t expect his opening day to be in danger.”

Means could miss the start of the regular season as he continues his pitching buildup.

Even with the rotation concerns, Burnes isn’t shying away from the pressure with the upstart Orioles. The 2021 NL Cy Young Award winner had spent his entire six-year MLB career with Milwaukee, posting a 3.26 ERA in 167 appearances. The three-time All-Star finished last season 10-8 with a 3.39 ERA and NL-best 1.07 WHIP in 193 2/3 innings.

“It’s an exciting team to come to,” Burnes said after Thursday’s practice. “In the position I was in, if I was going to get traded, it was going to be a team that was contending. No better place to come than the team that had the best record in the AL last year.”

Burnes said he heard rumors the Brewers were listening to trade offers early in the winter, but he was almost certain he would begin the season with Milwaukee. The blockbuster deal was announced Feb. 1.

“I was shocked,” he said. “I was fully expecting to go into spring training in Arizona. It definitely caught me off-guard.”

The Orioles won the AL East last year and finished with a league-high 101 wins despite one of baseball’s lowest payrolls. They were swept in the opening round of the playoffs by eventual World Series champion Texas.

Burnes will earn about $15.6 million before becoming eligible for free agency next offseason, making him the club’s highest paid player.

“Anything you can say, he does it for us,” Elias said. “He’s had postseason experience, he throws innings, he’s a No. 1 starter. He changes the whole complexion of our team.

“I want him to get comfortable here. The weight of the world is not on his shoulders. He’s got a smile on his face, I think he’s excited to be here. We love having him on the team.”


AP MLB: https://apnews.com/mlb

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