SARASOTA, Fla. - Austin Hays slashed .351/.385/.892 in 12 exhibition games this spring. His 13 hits included three doubles, a triple and five home runs. He scored 10 runs and drove in 13. He proved that his surgically repaired ankle was healed and wouldn’t restrict him on the bases or in the field, where he played a superb center and moved to both corners.
Hays did everything in camp except win a roster spot.
The moves leave the Orioles with 39 players in camp. Pitcher Gregory Infante never made it and isn’t included.
Asked whether he’s surprised to be optioned, Hays replied, “A little bit. I was putting up some good numbers, I was feeling good, feeling healthy.”
Then came the explanation from a player limited to 66 games at Double-A Bowie last summer due to shoulder and ankle injuries.
“I still haven’t played too many games in the minor leagues,” he said. “I haven’t had too many at-bats. I missed almost a whole year last year due to injuries, so there’s some time I need to make up.
“Just keep doing what I’m doing, keep the momentum that I built here in spring training and carry it into the season, wherever it is.”
Hays, the organization’s Minor League Player of the Year in 2017, had a shot to win a job in center or right field or serve as an extra outfielder. But the Orioles want him to continue his development in the minors and hopefully force is way onto the roster later in the summer.
“It’s just I came up here really, really fast,” said Hays, whose home runs, RBIs and runs scored led the club. “I missed a lot of time last year, so it’s just a matter of getting the reps in, continuing to work, continuing to learn and grow as a player. That way, when I do come back up and play my next game in Camden Yards, hopefully I’ll stick and be here for good.”
Joey Rickard is starting in right field today and appears to have won a spot, though more cuts obviously are coming later. Other outfielders still in camp include Trey Mancini, Cedric Mullins, Eric Young Jr. and Dwight Smith Jr.
Drew Jackson has been playing the infield and center field.
The switch-hitting Santander arrived in excellent shape and also impressed this spring, slashing .333/.389/.697 in 18 games with six doubles, two home runs and seven RBIs. He made huge strides after failing to be recalled last summer once his Rule 5 status expired and the Orioles optioned him to Bowie.
He’s in the same development boat as Hays, with the Orioles choosing to hold onto some veterans while giving their young prospects more time in the minors. They’ve already optioned former first round pick DJ Stewart and reassigned Yusniel Diaz.
Kline struck out the side and recorded the save in his first spring game, but was 0-2 with a 5.79 ERA in six appearances covering 4 2/3 innings.
Carroll registered his third save yesterday and allowed two runs and five hits with one walk and nine strikeouts over seven innings.
Ramirez, who started the exhibition opener and was a candidate to fill a spot in the back end of the rotation, allowed seven runs and 12 hits with 13 strikeouts in 12 1/3 innings. He surrendered five home runs.
Wilkerson put his versatility on display by moving to a variety of positions, but he went 8-for-36 (.222). He had nine RBIs.
“I thought it was about 50-50,” Wilkerson said. “I had a tough spring, so I’m not caught too off guard.”
Wilkerson said manager Brandon Hyde praised him for bringing a lot to the table with his versatility.
“He said, ‘You’re in a pretty good spot. Just be ready to go, go get better and be ready at any point in time,’ ” Wilkerson said.
Ynoa, who re-signed with the Orioles on a minor league deal, allowed only one run and four hits in eight innings. He didn’t walk a batter and struck out eight. Bostick, one of the candidates for a utility role, was 7-for-30 (.233) with two doubles in 19 games.