ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Baltimore Orioles ace John Means will return from a left shoulder strain to start Tuesday night against the Tampa Bay Rays.

The left-hander, 4-2 with a 2.28 ERA in 12 starts this season, last pitched on June 5 against Cleveland. He made three minor league rehab outings, including a three-inning stint with Triple-A Norfolk last Thursday.

“It felt great,” Means said on Monday. “Yeah, I’m ready to go.”

Means threw a no-hitter, falling short of a perfect game because of a wild pitch on a third strike, against Seattle on May 5.

“We’re going to closely monitor him. I’m not going to push him in any sort of way his first couple starts,” Orioles manager Brandon Hyde said. “Once he gets settled back in after these first couple starts I hope he does finish like he did last year, that he was one of better starting pitchers in the American League. How he started the year this year, the same way.”

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Baltimore entered Monday with an AL-worst record of 30-62.

Means missed an Opening Day assignment in 2020 due to a shoulder injury. The problem is an area of muscles in the back of the shoulder.

“Since I throw so many change-ups, it gets a little tighter than most people but it’s something that I need to take care of,” Means said. “It’s something that I didn’t and I was just cruising there for so long, and didn’t really want to change anything, wanted to stay out of the training room as much as possible. But that was stupid on my part. Now I know that I’ve got to keep that up and keep that spot as loose as possible so the rest of my muscles aren’t doing too much.”

Baltimore All-Star center fielder Cedric Mullins was rested in Monday night’s series opener against the Rays.

“Not much of an All-Star break,” Hyde said. “I want to keep him fresh in the last 70-plus games.”

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