BOSTON — It wasn’t the ninth inning of a tense game. But on Friday, in front of an empty Fenway Park, Félix Bautista played catch.
For most players it would be an insignificant sighting, and Orioles manager Brandon Hyde wouldn’t say if it was a positive or negative development. But just that fact that he threw at all — two weeks to the day after he left a game with a trainer after being injured — is important as they work through the next steps in determining the severity of the injury.
“We’re going to see how he feels,” Hyde said. “We are just kind of monitoring it day to day.”
Bautista injured his elbow Aug. 25, leaving the game against the Rockies with only one out to go in the top of the ninth. The Orioles said it was “some degree of an injury to the ulnar collateral ligament,” but they have not provided a more specific diagnosis as they wait for the inflammation to subside. This was Bautista’s second time playing catch, the first coming this week in Anaheim before the Orioles played the Angels.
Bautista, who has stayed with the team, has not been made available to the media since the injury.
Filling Bautista’s spot is no easy task. The right-handed pitcher, who made his first All-Star game this season, has a 1.48 ERA and 33 saves. In his absence, the Orioles have relied mainly on Yennier Cano in save situations. Shintaro Fujinami has also been trusted in that spot.
While they wait to determine next steps for Bautista, one arm could be on its way back soon. John Means — who has been on the injured list since Aug. 14, 2022, after getting Tommy John elbow surgery and suffering a back strain — will join the team at Fenway Park on Saturday. He will throw a bullpen session in front of team officials, and then they will decide where, and when, he will pitch next.
Means played in five rehab games, throwing at least four innings in his last three outings. He will likely be used as a long reliever in the Orioles’ bullpen or as a starter, but Means has options, meaning they can send him to the minor leagues if they don’t think he’s ready to rejoin the major league team.