SARASOTA, Fla. — The Orioles have set their rotation to start the season, but two key pieces could be back sooner than expected.

Kyle Bradish, who has an elbow strain, and John Means, who started throwing late this offseason after experiencing elbow soreness last season, will start the year on the injured list, but both have made progress this spring that has the club optimistic about their chances to help the team this year.

“We don’t know with precision, but we are really hoping to get them back early in the first half of the season,” general manager Mike Elias said.

Bradish, who finished fourth in Cy Young voting after posting a 2.83 ERA last season, suffered the injury in January. It was not severe enough to require surgery, but he got a platelet-rich plasma injection. He has been progressing in his throwing program, going from flat ground to long tossing to side sessions from a mound.

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“When I talked about him at the beginning of camp, I said that everything is pointing in the right direction and moving in the right direction, and thankfully that still is exactly the case,” Elias said. “Now we’re six weeks later and he’s checked more boxes. This is not going to be over until it’s over, there is still a whole rehab process to complete, but things continue to be pointed in the right direction.”

Means had Tommy John elbow reconstruction surgery in 2022 and returned at the end of the 2023 season, only to get shut down for the American League Division Series. He took an extended break in the offseason to allow the irritation to subside, causing him to start his throwing program late. His elbow is healthy, but he is about a month behind the other pitchers and needs more time to ramp up.

Until Bradish and Means are ready, the Orioles will go with Corbin Burnes, Grayson Rodriguez, Tyler Wells, Dean Kremer and Cole Irvin as their starters.

Danielle Allentuck covers the Orioles for The Baltimore Banner. She previously reported on the Rockies for the Denver Gazette and general sports assignments for The New York Times as part of its fellowship program. A Maryland native, Danielle grew up in Montgomery County and graduated from Ithaca College.

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