As the Orioles braced for the extended loss of center fielder Cedric Mullins to a strained groin muscle, knowing that further tests would confirm his placement on the injured list but relieved that the news wasn’t worse, they pondered their options for replacing him on the active roster.
They couldn’t consider Triple-A outfielders Colton Cowser and Kyle Stowers, who were on the injured list. They could recall an infielder to provide depth while others offered support in the outfield corners, leaving center to Austin Hays and Ryan McKenna, but shortstop Joey Ortiz wasn’t available due to some sort of illness that’s kept him from playing since his last demotion.
Aaron Hicks was a free agent after the Yankees designated him for assignment and released him, and executive vice president/general manager Mike Elias expressed interest prior to Mullins’ injury. And the price certainly was right, with the Orioles paying on the prorated major league minimum.
But beware of accepting the role of center fielder with the Orioles. Mullins strained his groin. Hays was out of Wednesday’s lineup because of an illness, which showed in his face later as he shuffled to his locker with one of the athletic trainers. Hicks made his debut with the club, reached base three times and exited with left calf cramps.
One scenario that the Orioles didn’t consider, of course, was promoting Heston Kjerstad from Double-A Bowie. Many fans wanted it. I’m guessing that a few thought it could happen.