The outfield surplus that the Orioles carried into spring training finally has regained its proper weight.
They occupy the first five spots in the order, with manager Brandon Hyde finding a way, as he kept promising months ago. But tonight marks only the fourth game this season with everyone in the lineup.
DJ Stewart is part of the three-man bench, his starts reduced with Hays’ return to the club.
Hays has gone on the injured list twice with hamstring strains. Santander missed a month due to a sprained ankle, which hasn’t fully healed.
The initial hamstring injury for Hays occurred in the third game of the season. He returned to the active roster on the same day that Santander turned his ankle while scurrying back to first base on a pickoff attempt in Miami.
“That’s why, even now bringing it up for me, it’s a season of 162 and things happen along the way that you never really have your full roster,” Hyde said this afternoon in his Zoom call at Tropicana Field.
“Those days that you do, you relish, but you understand that injuries happen. That’s why depth is so important in our game. You see that across the league, how many injuries there are. To have as many major league players as you can, that’s really going to be important right now because of all the injuries. We have guys who are banged up, too, so having Austin here is going to allow me to give some guys a day off that really need it.”
Hays played in two rehab games with Triple-A Norfolk, going 1-for-8 with a home run, and the Orioles activated him. Ryan McKenna was optioned last night.
“It’s good to have Austin back here. He feels good and is ready to go,” Hyde said.
“Austin brings us a lot offensively and defensively with the run tool, power and playing great defense, so we’re excited to have him back.”
The goal is to keep him on the active roster.
Hays has strained both hamstrings this season. He can’t seem to avoid the IL - he returned to it last August with a fractured rib - but Hyde isn’t going to stick an injury-prone label on the former third-round pick.
“I think he’s still really young in his career,” Hyde said. “I’m not ready to do that. He’s still got a long future ahead of him in this game. He’s got major league ability, he’s had some tough breaks. I think it’s going to turn for him.”
“It’s been impressive regardless of anything, what Cedric’s been able to do,” Hyde said. “He’s had an All-Star first half and a Gold Glove first half. Really happy for him, the way he’s playing. He’s playing with so much confidence.
“I was watching the replay of that catch he made in the first inning the other night, the glove flip to DJ in left field. He would have never done something like that two years ago. That just shows for me that he’s playing with more of a confidence about him that he can catch every ball, he hits every ball on the screws. And it’s really fun to watch him right now.”
Hyde stated again, as he did Wednesday night, that Matt Harvey remains in the rotation and is starting next week in Cleveland.
“We’re sticking with him right now,” Hyde said. “He’s been working hard. I know he’s very discouraged, disappointed, frustrated. We talked this afternoon. He’s going to stay in the rotation and try to fight through this tough time he’s going through.”