Anthony Santander, the former Rule 5 draft pick turned breakout star of the Orioles season, is going on the injured list with an oblique strain and could miss the final three weeks of the season.
“Tony is a huge loss for us, and I’m really happy with the year that he’s had,” manager Brandon Hyde said. “He’s really come on the map for me, all the positive things I said about him from the end of the year last year, he’s improved even more. That’s a huge loss for us, and he’s very disappointed.”
Santander, who hit 20 home runs after being called up in the middle of 2019, had one of the best starts to this shortened season of any player in baseball. Even with a little regression, he ends the year batting .261 with an .890 OPS, 11 home runs and 13 doubles in 37 games while lowering his strikeout rate significantly and playing a strong right field.
The 25-year-old Venezuelan left the first game of Friday’s doubleheader with the New York Yankees with discomfort in the oblique area after a swing, and didn’t play in the second game. With the precedent that even mild oblique injuries keep players out for multiple weeks, Santander might not be rushed back with the season ending on Sept. 27.
His injury comes in a week where the Orioles had injury scares with second baseman Hanser Alberto (knee) and first baseman Renato Núñez (hamstring), though neither ended up being serious.
“My concern a little out of summer camp was the soft-tissue stuff with the legs,” Hyde said. “I think we’ve done an amazing job of keeping our guys in as good of shape as possible, but I think that you’re seeing soft-tissue stuff around the league with position players and whether that’s a quick ramp-up, a long delay, whatever it may be — you can’t match the major league baseball game intensity.
“We’re playing intense games every single night where you see guys going hard, and those things are going to happen. So, we’re starting to get our fair share now of guys that are a little bit banged up.”
Hyde said outfielder DJ Stewart, who was recalled this week from the secondary camp at Bowie, will get the majority of chances as the everyday right fielder. Stewart is still waiting for his first hit of the season, but has an on-base percentage of .385 thanks to his nine walks in 28 plate appearances.
Ryan Mountcastle will remain the everyday left fielder, Hyde said, though he noted the rookie could get time at first base as well. Cedric Mullins will remain in center field, at least until Austin Hays returns from his rib injury. Hyde said he hopes that happens in the next few weeks, at which point one of those two could play elsewhere.
The Orioles replaced Santander on the roster by summoning outfielder Mason Williams from the secondary site at Bowie, and freshened the pitching staff Saturday by swapping David Hess onto the roster for Evan Phillips as well.
Fulmer claimed, Bannon added
Baltimore Orioles Insider
The Orioles used one of their open 40-man roster spots to claim right-hander Carson Fulmer off waivers from the Pittsburgh Pirates on Saturday, adding a former first-round pick to their stock of pitching depth.
Fulmer, 26, was the eighth overall pick in the 2015 MLB draft out of Vanderbilt and was in the Chicago White Sox’s major league bullpen a year later. However, he failed to establish himself in parts of four major league seasons there and went to the Detroit Tigers on waivers in July.
In Detroit, Fulmer pitched eight times out of the bullpen. He comes to the Orioles with a 6.57 big league ERA in 51 appearances (15 starts), and he has a lifetime 5.01 ERA in the minors.
Fulmer is out of minor league options and will likely join the major league team once he clears the COVID-19 protocol.
The Orioles also added infielder Rylan Bannon to the 60-man player pool and assigned him to the secondary site at Bowie. Bannon, acquired in 2018 as part of the Manny Machado trade with the Los Angeles Dodgers, would have been at Triple-A Norfolk this year after being invited to big league spring training.
He’ll need to be added to the 40-man roster this offseason or else exposed to the Rule 5 draft in December.
With the additions, the Orioles’ 60-man player pool is full for the first time this season.