The Orioles have been hampered by lingering injuries to two of their starting corner outfielders.
Anthony Santander is dealing with a left ankle injury and Austin Hays has been slowed by a left hamstring injury for more than a month.
Both have tried to play through the injuries, but IL stints aren’t possibilities at the moment, according to manager Brandon Hyde. Meanwhile, reliever César Valdez was placed on the 10-day injured list with a strained muscle in his lower back,
“I give those guys credit, they want to be in the lineup,” Hyde said. “They’re asking to be in the lineup. It’s obvious that they’re playing with a little something, which a lot of guys are right now, too. Nobody feels 100 percent right now, but those guys want to be in the lineup and I’m trying to manage it the best that I can. … Thankfully, no pain for the past few days.”
Santander, who was voted Most Valuable Oriole last season, is batting .239/.270/.387 with four home runs and 16 RBIs in 175 plate appearances this year. He has 14 strikeouts in the past 11 games and has not hit a homer since May 22.
“I want to see Anthony at his best and he’s making an effort to be that way,” Hyde said. “It’s just right now he’s a little bit sore, it does affect him. He comes in super early to treat, he’s here after the game late to treat it. I think there are certain times throughout the game that it possibly bites him a little bit and that’s when you kind of see, you can tell that it’s tender, you can tell that he’s sore.
“But he’s trying to fight through this right now and I’m trying to keep him off the field as much as I can. I just want him to feel good on the field.”
Santander admitted the ankle injury has impacted his at-bats. The hope is that the ailment doesn’t take the entire season to heal.
“You know how the legs are basically the base of a good hitting approach,” Santander said. “Lately what I’ve been trying to do is not put that in my mind, trying to get that away from my mind and my thoughts and just try to have good at-bats. Hopefully, my ankle cooperates and allows me to help out my team.”
Hays has already been on the injured list twice because of a hamstring injury. The injury has also impacted his approach at the plate. Hays is batting .224/.292/.404 with six homers and 18 RBIs. He has six hits in his last 37 at-bats (.162) with 11 strikeouts.
Hays has dealt with myriad injury issues throughout his professional career, including the hamstring ailment this year.
“I think he’s still really young in his career,” Hyde said. “I’m not ready to do [call him injury-prone]. He’s still got a long future ahead of him in this game. He’s got major-league ability. He’s had some tough breaks. I think it’s going to turn out for him.”
Keegan Akin lost his third straight game on June 22 against the Houston Astros.
The left-hander allowed five runs on six hits, including one home run, with five strikeouts and a career-high-tying four walks in the 10-2 loss. The four walks are tied for the most by an Orioles pitcher this season.
“Obviously, I’m not happy with it,” Akin said. “I’ve got to get over that third-inning hump. Didn’t make the best pitches and paid for it. Just got to get better and get over that hump and grind out five or six innings on days like this.”
Akin was elected by the Orioles in the second round of the 2016 MLB Draft. He made his major-league debut against the Nationals Sept, 14, entering the game in the fifth inning and allowing three runs in three innings. Overall last year, he posted a 4.56 ERA in 25.2 innings.
He has made five starts this season and has gone 0-2 with a 6.42 ERA and a 1.574 WHIP. The Orioles like his upside but he might need another stint in the minors if the struggles continue.
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