The competition for outfield jobs with the Orioles next spring has taken an unexpected twist.
The team announced that DJ Stewart underwent a “successful” microfracture procedure on his right ankle yesterday in Los Angeles. Dr. Kenneth Jung from the Kerlan-Jobe Institute performed the surgery.
Stewart is expected to return to baseball activities toward the end of spring training, according to a tweet from the Orioles, which seemingly prevents him from heading north for opening day on March 26 at Camden Yards.
The procedure is linked to the ankle injury that Stewart sustained on June 5 in Arlington, Texas. Stewart collided with Hanser Alberto while chasing a foul ball and the subsequent sprain and return to Triple-A Norfolk kept him out of the majors until Aug. 6.
Alberto inadvertently slid into Stewart while trying to avoid him.
Stewart didn’t catch the ball or many breaks.
He suffered a concussion in his fifth game back with the Orioles after losing his footing and being hit by a fly ball on the side of the head. The mishap occurred on Aug. 6 and Stewart didn’t play again until Aug. 16.
Stewart appeared in 44 games this season and batted .238/.317/.381 with six doubles, four home runs and 15 RBIs in 142 plate appearances. Twenty-three of the games were played in September, including the first two of the final series in Boston.
The ankle didn’t keep him out of the lineup, but it’s expected to rob him of a normal spring training.
The Orioles are penciling Austin Hays in center field and Anthony Santander could handle one of the corners, perhaps with Trey Mancini on the opposite side. Stewart, 25, figured to compete for a bench job with opportunities to start.
Stewart was the 25th overall pick in the 2015 First-Year Player Draft out of Florida State University. He’s slashed .241/.323/.422 in 61 major league games.
Jung is the same surgeon who repaired closer Zack Britton’s torn right Achilles tendon on Dec. 21, 2017.