Orioles manager Brandon Hyde was not concerned about juggling four solid outfielders when Austin Hays came off the injured list.
With Hays back in the mix, the team had Cedric Mullins, DJ Stewart and Anthony Santander also looking to get their at-bats.
The challenge was short-lived because Santander went down with a sprained ankle just hours after Hays was activated.
“I’ve seen it too many times,” Hyde said. “When you think you’ve got more than you need, all of a sudden things happen. That’s why depth is so important, that’s why your minor-league system is so important. One day you feel like, ‘How am I going to play everybody?’ And the next day you’re short on the bench. That’s why for me, I’m day-to-day with decisions [even] when it comes to spring training. … There are so many things that can happen on a day-to-day basis in baseball.
“Hopefully, you’ve got a ton of depth and hopefully everybody stays healthy, but unfortunately it’s not how things work sometimes.”
Santander was injured April 20 in a 7-5 victory when he rolled his left ankle trying to get back to first base on a pickoff attempt. Santander was on the ground for several minutes before being helped off the field by Hyde and athletic trainer Brian Ebel.
“It was terrible, especially seeing him have to be helped off the field,” Mancini said. “I hope he’s OK and back soon. We all love Anthony so much. He’s the best guy and he’s an amazing player, too, so for many reasons we want him out there every day.”
Hays was reinstated from the injured list prior to the game after dealing with a hamstring injury. He replaced Santander and fell against the wall on his play in the outfield on a hard-hit ball by Miguel Rojas, who turned the hit into a triple. Hays later made a stellar play with a leaping catch against the wall on the warning track.
“I understand that we have a lot of great outfielders and guys that can play defense, guys that can hit, so that’s all you can ask for as far as an organizational standpoint — to have a lot of depth in the outfield,” Hays said. “So it’s up to the manager and GM to make those decisions.
“That’s not our job. Our job is to just show up to the field and be ready to play under any circumstance, any position, wherever that finds me — whether it’s late in games, starting games. As long as I’m on the team and I can get out there on the field and help the team win, I’m here for it.”
The Orioles recalled rookie Ryan McKenna from the taxi squad for outfield depth.
Ryan Mountcastle is going to need to make some adjustments at the plate.
The Orioles rookie is hitless in his last 18 at-bats and is batting .169/.203/.177 with a homer and seven RBIs on the season. Mountcastle also has a -0.7 WAR, which measures a player’s total contributions to his team, according to Fangraphs.
“I’m just trying to keep my head clear at the plate and keeping my eyes on the ball is what I’ve been focusing on,” Mountcastle said. “Especially during [batting practice], just staying through it, and the hits will eventually come, and just stay confident.”
With Hays back in the lineup, Mountcastle can move to the DH spot and also play first base when Trey Mancini needs a break. Mouncastle is still adjusting to that designated hitter role.
“It hasn’t been too bad,” Mountcastle said. “I like to focus on my hitting, especially early in the year. Wherever they put me in the lineup and in the field, I’m doing whatever it takes to help us win.”
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