Rookie right-hander Luis Ortiz left without finishing the second inning after suffering a hamstring injury running to cover first base in the Orioles’ 8-6 loss to the Chicago White Sox on Friday at Camden Yards, abruptly ending his first career major league start and robbing him of the chance to make an impression on the hometown crowd for the first time.
“I felt like I was locked in and ready to go,” Ortiz said. “I felt like I was making some pitches, making some mistakes at the same time. But it was fun as it was going.
“To cut it short is not what everyone wants. It sucks, especially going down on an injury. I prepared for this day, and all I get was an injury. Not really good.”
Ortiz, 22, had allowed a run on two hits in the first inning before a second inning that was complicated by the Orioles’ spotty infield defense. With one out, White Sox shortstop Tim Anderson hit a chopper down the third base line that Renato Núñez couldn't secure and transfer for the throw, resulting in an error. Anderson scored on a triple by Nicky Delmonico, and with two outs, Delmonico scored on a chopper to first baseman Chris Davis.
The ball brought Davis to near the edge of the outfield grass behind first base, but judging that Ortiz wasn’t going to make it to cover the base in time, elected to try to make the play himself. Second baseman Yoán Moncada beat them both to the bag, and Davis and Ortiz narrowly avoided a collision.
Ortiz walked Yolmer Sánchez on five pitches before assistant athletic trainer Mark Shires visited him on the mound with manager Buck Showalter and pitching coach Roger McDowell. Ortiz limped off beside Shires, and Jimmy Yacabonis came on in relief.
“It looked like he started over there and kind of assumed that Chris was going to go to the bag, then stopped-started again,” Showalter said. “He said it was fine, then walked the next guy. I just didn’t think it was worth taking a chance. We’ll see how it is tomorrow.”
Showalter said he had liked what he’d seen to that point from Ortiz.
“He was OK,” Showalter said. “Just his first start in the big leagues, a 22-year-old young man. I wish he could have stayed out there and continued to pitch. He’s got late life, and good sharp slider. He’s got a chance to be pretty good.”
With just two weeks left in the season, any kind of significant absence could end the season for Ortiz, one of three pieces along with infielder Jonathan Villar and minor league shortstop Jean Carmona the Orioles acquired July 31 from the Milwaukee Brewers for Jonathan Schoop.
Ortiz, a 2014 first-round draft pick of the Texas Rangers, had a 3.71 ERA in 16 appearances (11 starts) for Double-A Biloxi in the Brewers system before the trade. He went 2-1 with a 3.69 ERA in six starts at Triple-A Norfolk before joining the Orioles last week at the Tampa Bay Rays.
He pitched once there and struggled badly, allowing two runs on three hits and a pair of walks while recording two outs Sept. 7.
Earlier this year, he missed a month with Biloxi with a similar hamstring injury, though Ortiz said that one, which kept him out a month, was more severe.
“I feel this one’s a little better than it was,” Ortiz said. “I feel like I’ll be ready to go soon, but that’s up to the medical staff and how I feel and how they feel.”