Asked yesterday how much he’s looking forward to resting his legs after another physically taxing season, Orioles outfielder Anthony Santander smiled, raised his right pant leg to show the wrap on his calf and did the same with his left to reveal the wrap on his ankle and thigh.
At least he could still stand and also display good humor and the confidence that his return to the lineup was imminent.
Santander hasn’t been in it for the past two games after injuring his left hamstring in the 10th inning of Tuesday night’s game in Philadelphia. Santander chased J.T. Realmuto’s line drive, reached for the ball and felt the hamstring grab.
Realmuto had a two-run, walk-off triple, which probably should have been scored a double. Santander only cared that he didn’t make the game-ending catch and that another injury had sent him to the bench.
Santander worked out yesterday afternoon, running sprints, shagging fly balls and heading indoors to take some swings in the cage.
“Hopefully, if things go well, maybe (tonight) or the day after I might be back,” Santander said via interpreter Ramón Alarcón.
“I felt it during the play. I’ve been playing with some soreness in my leg ever since the play in the outfield when I basically had to grab one of my teammates (Ryan Mountcastle), so after (Tuesday’s) play I definitely felt it a little bit more.”
Santander tweaked his right leg previously and believes it has created the soreness in his left.
“I’ve been putting more pressure on my left side because of the right side,” he said.
As reasonable a theory as any.
This is when the big reveal happens in the dugout. Tape stretched across areas of both legs. The smile staying on his face.
“It’s something that I try to get off my mind,” he said. “It’s part of the game, so every day I just try to adjust, try to help my team, so whenever the offseason comes I know that I’ll be able to rest. Then, work out to improve hopefully next year to continue to help my team.”
Santander hasn’t been shut down, which happened the last two Septembers, but didn’t impact his selection in 2020 as Most Valuable Oriole.
The sprained ankle sustained on April 20 in Miami while beating a pickoff throw to first base has hampered him for much of the summer. He’s batting .244/.289/.432 in 108 games, with 24 doubles, 17 home runs, 48 RBIs, 23 walks and 101 strikeouts.
Santander slashed .226/.271/.382 with six home runs in 230 plate appearances in the first half. He’s batting .263/.310/.489 with 11 homers in 200 plate appearances since the All-Star break. He was 29-for-94 (.309) with eight home runs and a .967 OPS in 26 games in August, but 16-for-71 (.225) with a .637 OPS in 18 games this month.
A Gold Glove finalist last year, Santander has registered a minus-0.6 dWAR per Baseball-Reference.com, compared to 0.7 in 2020. Santander had eight Defensive Runs Saved in right field during the truncated season, according to FanGraphs.com, and is minus-four this year.
Reflection will be saved until Santander is back home.
If he’s fortunate, while sitting in a comfortable chair. Those same legs propped up.
“I’m happy no matter what,” he said. “When the offseason comes, I’ll just prepare and put in my work. As I’ve always say, I really can’t control the outcome or the results. The only thing I can control is how I prepare myself for the next season. So that’s my main focus.”
The animated side of Santander surfaces again when reminded that Cedric Mullins is expected to be named Most Valuable Oriole on Wednesday. One of the bigger “duh” moments.
“I don’t know,” Santander said, smiling as he tilts his head back and strokes his beard. “It’s going to be close.”
No need to go to the tape.