Orioles outfielder Anthony Santander was removed from Sunday afternoon’s game against the Rangers after struggling to reach first base on a ground ball in the bottom of the eighth inning. However, it wasn’t the sore left hamstring that forced a change.
A third injury did the trick.
Santander went on the 10-day injured list this afternoon with a sprained right knee, ending a season that also included a sprained left ankle on April 20 in Miami.
Staying healthy was more challenging to Santander than an upper-90s fastball or biting curve.
“He’s been playing banged up for a while now and really gave us everything he had,” said manager Brandon Hyde. “I think that ball into right-center kind of got to him a little bit. We thought it was the right time to shut him down and start his offseason a little bit early, get his legs right and ready for spring training next year.
“Talking to him, I think it’s a strange year for him in that he was never fully healthy and tried to play the best he could with some limitations. Felt good some days, didn’t feel good some others, so I give him a lot of credit for hanging in there and trying to help out the team. When he’s right, he’s a difference-maker in the middle of our order. Kind of an up-and-down year for him. Hopefully, he gets healthy and expecting a good year next year.”
Hyde believes a far comp to Santander is the 2020 version, though in a shortened season.
“He just never got his legs underneath him this year,” Hyde said.
Tyler Nevin will work out in the corner infield and outfield, and Hyde can decide where he’s needed on a particular day. Nevin batted .227/.305/.392 with 18 doubles, 16 home runs and 52 RBIs in 111 games with Triple-A Norfolk.
“Our roster’s changing as of late, so we’re going to look at him in four spots,” Hyde said.
“I only saw him for a day in Chicago, but it sounds like he’s done a lot of work at third base, they moved him around a little bit so that he could make some strides defensively. He’s got some power, hit some homers in Norfolk. I think the big thing was defense, where he fits, and it sounds like he’s really improved defensively. So, excited about that.”
Chris Ellis was placed on the 10-day injured list with right shoulder inflammation after allowing seven runs and 18 hits in 25 1/3 innings in six starts.
“I think Chris did a great job,” Hyde said. “I was impressed with a right-hander that, he has life to his fastball, two good breaking balls. I thought he neutralized right-handed hitters really well. I really like the way he competed. He’s been facing some difficult lineups and produced, so that was a blow, losing him. I’d like to see him finish the year. I thought he was really helping us, so tough to see his season end early.”
Ellis could be used as a starter or in bulk relief next season if he remains with the Orioles.
“I think he could do a couple different things,” Hyde said. “He made some good starts for us. He was in the ‘pen with Tampa a little bit and we saw him out of the ‘pen in kind of a long relief role and didn’t do much against him.
“He’s tough on right-handed hitters because it’s a 96 mph fastball with a tough breaking ball.”
The Orioles must find a starter for Friday night’s series opener in Toronto.
Cedric Mullins has returned to the Orioles lineup tonight. He pinch-hit the past two games due to a sore hamstring.
For the Orioles
Cedric Mullins CF
Ryan Mountcastle 1B
Austin Hays RF
Trey Mancini DH
Pedro Severino C
Ryan McKenna LF
Pat Valaika SS
Jahmai Jones 2B
Kelvin Gutiérrez 3B
Bruce Zimmermann LHP
The Orioles are honoring their minor league award winners tonight and made them available to the media before batting practice.
Co-Player of the Year Adley Rutschman:
80 games with Double-A Bowie: .271/.392/.508, 16 doubles, 18 home runs, 55 RBIs. 38 games with Norfolk: .319/.415/.522, nine doubles, two triples, five home runs, 20 RBIs.
“I found that every level has been a jump, for sure,” Rutschman said. “It’s one of those things that you wouldn’t notice right off the bat, I think, but as you play in more games you start to kind of reflect on your time at the previous levels and you compare it. And I think that’s where you start to think the differences just in the little things and the day-to-day reflecting back.
“Just from talking to so many guys about their experiences in the minor leagues, I had a pretty good idea what to expect, but it’s just actually living it every day that’s kind of the surprise. You feel like, ‘OK, I know I’m going to be tired, I know the bus rides are long and I’ve got to get my body ready to play every single day, I’ve got to do those little things.’ But actually living it is kind of where your mind makes that connection.”
Co-Player of the Year Kyle Stowers:
36 games at Single-A Aberdeen: .275/.404/.496, six doubles, one triple, seven home runs, 32 RBIs. 66 games at Bowie: .283/.377/.561, 15 doubles, 17 home runs, 42 RBIs. 18 games at Norfolk: .299/.390/.463, two doubles, three home runs, 10 RBIs.
“It’s been a wild year, especially coming off no baseball at all for a full year,” he said. “I think the nice thing about the year off is it kind of forces you to put things back in perspective, and just kind of went into the year with no expectations and only just hoping to stay healthy and allow myself to enjoy playing baseball again. I think that playing with that no-pressure mindset has helped a lot and carried me through the season.
“Obviously, I have a high belief in myself as a player and what I’m capable of doing on the field, but that being said, I wasn’t necessarily expecting anything as far as moving up, and it’s been fun to experience different coaches, different levels, different players. And having good friends at each level has been a lot of fun. There’s a special group of people in this organization and everywhere you go, you’re able to fit right in, get comfortable, and it’s made it an easier transition on the field.”
Pitcher of the Year Grayson Rodriguez:
Five starts with Aberdeen: 3-0, 1.54, 0.686, 11 hits, four earned runs, 5 walks, 40 strikeouts, 23 1/3 innings
18 starts Bowie: 6-1, 2.60 ERA, 0.866, 47 hits, 23 ER, 22 walks, 121 strikeouts, 78 2/3 innings
“I wish (the season) would have ended a little bit better in terms of winning games and stuff,” he said, “but I think everything is right on track, even better than we could have asked for.”
You can read more on Steve Melewski’s side.