He can certainly relate to the COVID-19 situation in Major League Baseball. The Orioles’ Anthony Santander contracted the virus and missed a large portion of summer camp. But he returned in time for the season opener and has played in all four games thus far. He is slated to bat fourth tonight in right field against the New York Yankees.
But the Miami Marlins saw about half their roster impacted and now the team they last played, the Philadelphia Phillies, will not be playing at least through this weekend. The MLB schedule is in some major flux right now.
“It’s tough watching something like that,” Santander said this afternoon during a Zoom interview. “Unfortunately, there are so many players involved. Players that we are familiar with and that I’ve played against or with in the minors. Hopefully, everybody gets well pretty soon, and hopefully, we can all take the right measures to try to avoid something like this happening again.
“It is something that you definitely worry about and think about. At the same time, what I can do and what our teammates can do is try to deal with it. Again, take the right measures and hopefully you don’t fall into a trap and get contagious. Our job is to play the game and play it the right way. Hopefully, the game can bring some joy to the fans. It’s much needed right now.”
Santander said it is definitely something players are discussing before games each day. But at some point, they need to put that on the back burner and get the focus back on the field and the challenge on a given night.
“You try to keep those things separate, but we definitely talk about it every day as soon as we come to the ballpark,” he said. “But the main conversation is: Let’s all try to follow protocol and let’s take care of each other. For all of us to wear a mask. But once the game starts, it’s time to compete.”
Santander, who last year hit .261/.297/.476 with 20 homers in 93 games, is 3-for-15 to start this year. He has two doubles, a homer, three runs and four RBIs. He drove in four runs during the three games at Fenway Park.
How is his swing looking right now?
“I feel very pleased,” he said. “I’m able to watch the pitches really well and able to recognize the different pitches. Right now, my mindset is to make good hard and solid contact. For the most part, I can just concentrate on the things that I can control. So, in general, I feel very well where I am right now. Hopefully, despite the short season, I can continue to help out my team.”
No doubt Santander is still building up strength and endurance after missing so much time during camp.
“I think little by little, I’ll be in full shape. One day at a time and hopefully I can be there to best help the team,” he said.
Tonight, as the Orioles try to end a 17-game losing streak to the Yankees, they get lefty John Means back off the injured list. Means gets tonight’s start. Right-hander Cody Carroll was optioned to the alternate site in Bowie to make room for Means on the 30-man active roster.
“I feel very happy seeing Means back on the mound. He’s such a great pitcher and competitor. On our end, we have to play the best defense we can and help out our pitcher,” said Santander.