Outfielder Anthony Santander became the first Orioles player to confirm he missed part of this summer’s workouts because he tested positive for COVID-19 early this month.
While the Orioles won’t formally identify players who test positive for the virus, players are allowed to personally talk about the experience. Santander was cleared to return to Camden Yards and disclosed his illness during a Zoom call with the media July 15.
“I’m healthy, I’m not contagious, happy to be back on the field with my teammates and ready to work out,” Santander said. “Now we have a couple of days for Opening Day. I just have to work and try to get ready as soon as possible.”
Santander emerged as one of the Orioles’ top players in 2019, slashing .261/.297/.476 with 20 doubles and 20 home runs in 93 games. He was shut down with shoulder soreness in September, but he will have an opportunity for a starting role at one of the corner outfield positions in this abbreviated season.
The Orioles are gradually working him back into baseball shape.
“He took some batting practice. We did some light outfield stuff,” manager Brandon Hyde said. Pretty light workout. … Happy with how he looked and feels good today, so we’ll continue to ramp him up.”
Fellow outfielder Dwight Smith Jr. has yet to work out, and Hyde declined to comment on his status.
Rutschman Looking to Impress
Adley Rutschman is a long shot to make the Orioles’ roster this season because of his limited experience in the minors. Still, the team invited him to summer workouts to gain more experience with the major-league club. After working out at Camden Yards for a couple of days, he’s now at the club’s alternate camp at Double-A Bowie.
Rutschman is valuing the experience and is not worried about cracking the roster sometime this summer.
“I have no idea and, you know, it’s not really up to me,” Rutschman said. “I’m just here to do the best I can and get better every day. Whatever comes as a result of that, it’s meant to be. So I’m just glad to be here right now.”
Rutschman, 22, was the No. 1 pick in the 2019 MLB Draft after batting .352/.473/.559 with 72 extra-base hits, 174 RBIs in 185 games at Oregon State. Last summer, Rutschman slashed .254/.351/.423 with four home runs, 26 RBIs in 37 games with the Gulf Coast League Orioles, Short-Season Aberdeen and Low-A Delmarva.
For now, he’s glad to be back on the field and savoring the experience.
“I think just the opportunity to be at a big-league ballpark with big-league guys,” Rutschman said. “Much like spring training, it’s a tremendous learning opportunity for me. Just being able to be with all the coaches from a catching standpoint, you know catching big-league guys, seeing what they like to do.
“It’s all been beneficial. Just excited to be here and just to be able to learn from everyone around.”
Has Mountcastle’s Time Arrived?
Orioles prospect Ryan Mountcastle appears ready to make his debut with the major-league club at some point this summer.
There have been few questions about Mountcastle’s ability to produce at the plate, but he needs more seasoning defensively. An infielder by trade, he has spent time playing left field during this summer’s workouts and is getting increasingly comfortable.
“There’s a lot that goes into the outfield,” Mountcastle said. “Just getting better routes. That’s all I was trying to do. Being able to put my head down and run and look up and being able to find the ball, stuff like that, as opposed to the infield.
“When you get a pop fly in the infield, you’ve got your eyes on it the entire time, but when you’ve really got to put your head down and run in the outfield, it’s a little bit more tough.”
Last season, Mountcastle was named the Orioles’ Brooks Robinson Minor League Player of the Year and was named the International League MVP at Triple-A Norfolk. In 127 games with the Tides, he slashed .312/.344/.527 with 35 doubles, one triple, 25 home runs, 81 runs and 83 RBIs.
He’s hoping the Orioles have seen enough to finally give him an opportunity.
“I think I’ve made some strides at positions they want me to improve on and I showed them out here in intrasquad games and in practice,” Mountcastle said. “It’s definitely a big deal right now trying to show them I can help them win games.”
Iglesias Getting Acclimated To New Club
Orioles manager Brandon Hyde plans to use Jose Iglesias as the everyday shortstop and to provide a spark to the young lineup.
The team signed the veteran infielder this offseason to a one-year, $2.5 million deal with a $3.5 million option in 2021. Iglesias was hampered by a sore back earlier in camp and eased his way back into workouts.
Nonetheless, he had a solid first impression of his new team.
“All the team and the coaching staff welcomed me really well,” Iglesias said. “It was very smooth for me to talk to the guys and connect with them.”
Iglesias, 30, appeared in 146 games for the Cincinnati Reds last season. He slashed .288/.318/.407 with a career-high 11 home runs, 62 runs scored and 59 RBIs. He was second on the Reds in hits (145) and was the team’s recipient of the 2019 Heart and Hustle Award.
Iglesias is embracing a leadership role with the Orioles.
“I see a lot of potential in this team,” Iglesias said. “We have great chemistry, which is amazing and we’re willing to get better each and every day. The guys have put in the effort and I’m just very happy to be a part of it.”
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