There are still protocol regulations that must be followed before he’s allowed inside the clubhouse.
Santander hasn’t played since spraining his left ankle in an April 20 game against the Marlins in Miami. He’s in right field tonight at Prince George’s Stadium.
“Hopefully, by the end of next week, he’ll be with us if all goes smoothly,” manager Brandon Hyde said in his Zoom call with the media.
Hyde said the Orioles won’t need to make any changes in their routine - wearing masks or social distancing, for instance - based on the eight positive COVID-19 tests with the Yankees this week. Shortstop Gleyber Torres is the only player.
“It doesn’t affect us at all,” Hyde said.
Left-hander Keegan Akin remains in the bullpen tonight after retiring the side in order with two strikeouts in the sixth inning of Wednesday afternoon’s game against the Mets at Citi Field.
Akin fanned pitcher Taijuan Walker, who watched three fastballs down the middle, and former Orioles infielder Jonathan Villar. Francisco Lindor flied to center field.
Eight of 12 pitches from Akin were strikes.
The Orioles recalled Akin on Monday to provide a long relief option.
“His first appearance, I wanted to get him where he was able to start an inning, just because he had been starting down there and kind of used to opening an inning,” Hyde said.
“I thought he threw the ball great. He had pitcher’s spot and top of order. I like the way he threw strikes with his fastball and worked ahead in the count. It was a good inning for him.”
“It was good to get on a good start,” Akin said in today’s Zoom call. “Obviously one inning, got to face the pitcher, so I guess take it how you want it, but it was definitely good to kind of get on the right track and pound the zone and throw strikes.”
The Orioles optioned Akin to the alternate training site after he allowed 10 runs and 15 hits in nine innings and walked seven batters. The resumption of his rookie status would come later after he arrived in camp as a favorite to make the rotation.
“We felt like there’s things he needed to work on from a command standpoint, all of his pitches, get his velo up a little bit, get his command of his fastball back,” Hyde said. “He really went in and out with command during spring training, so that’s what we talked about when we sent him down at the end of camp.
“He felt like he didn’t have a very good spring and that he wasn’t locating pitchers and commanding any of his stuff the way he wanted to, and knew from his experience last year in the big leagues how important that was, and he didn’t do that this spring. So I think he agreed with us that some time in Triple-A to get his command back was going to be important.”
Akin said he understood the decision and actually endorsed it.
“We had some good talks, just about things I needed to work on and it was kind of like a mutual agreement,” he said.
“They asked me first and I said, ‘Honestly no, not really. I need to work on some things.’ I went down to the alternate site and got some work in and got back on track. Some good stuff came from going down there and I’m glad to be back.”
Akin could have arrived sooner except for a kitchen accident that prevented him from making a spot start on April 24.
“I was actually washing a knife,” he said. “Happened to be a very, very sharp knife. Had something stuck on it, so I started scrubbing a little harder and the scrub brush just gave out and it slipped and got me on my left finger. So it was a freak accident, obviously not the right time of the year to happen. Done it many times, but not that bad to where I had to go and get stitches.
“Obviously, it sucked, it wasn’t fun, but honestly I laughed about it. When I made the phone call to (minor league medical coordinator) Dave Walker and some of the guys and let them know, I was kind of laughing. I said, ‘Listen, I’m probably going to have to go to urgent care and get some stitches, it’s not looking good.’ I kind of was in disbelief. It happened so fast and I looked down and I was like, ‘OK, that one might need stitches.’ So I laughed it off pretty well, but obviously it was disappointing.”
Same with the struggles that kept him from breaking camp with the team.
“There’s always going to be bumps in the road,” he said. “You’re competing at the highest level of baseball there is, so in my mind, it’s just a little step backward. I needed to work on some things, get my mind right and get some things right physically on the mound, so for me it was a little bump in the road and I got my confidence back after being down there at the alt site and then obviously throwing a little bit in Norfolk. So to me, I’m back on track and like I said, just a little bump in the road.”
The Sunday starter is listed as TBA. John Means had been pegged to close out the series.
Trey Mancini is playing in his 500th career game tonight.
Update: The Orioles are placing Triple-A Norfolk infielder Jahmai Jones on the minor league injured list with a strained left oblique. I’m hearing that it isn’t severe and the Orioles hope he’s out days rather than weeks.
Jones is 5-for-22 with one double, two triples, one home run, five RBIs, four walks and four strikeouts.
Here’s the Yankees lineup:
DJ LeMahieu 2B
Giancarlo Stanton DH
Aaron Judge RF
Luke Voit 1B
Clint Frazier LF
Brett Gardner CF
Miguel Andújar 3B
Kyle Higashioka C
Tyler Wade SS
Corey Kluber RHP