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If Anthony Santander’s oblique injury causes him to miss extended time, here’s who the Orioles could turn to

Presented with a situation in which he has come through so many times this season, Orioles outfielder Anthony Santander was instead left wincing.

Batting with two outs and two in scoring position with a chance to give the Orioles a walk-off victory in the first game of Friday’s doubleheader against the New York Yankees, Santander suffered an oblique injury. Santander, among the American League leaders in RBIs, finished the at-bat despite his obvious pain, lining out to left field to end the threat. The Yankees won an inning later.

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Santander was out of the lineup for the night’s second game, a 6-3 Orioles victory, with manager Brandon Hyde saying the severity of the injury will be determined through testing Saturday morning. Given Santander’s displayed pain, it’s possible the Orioles could go through an extended period without their most potent bat.

Who else could they turn to in the outfield to take his place?

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On the roster

DJ Stewart was the immediate replacement, batting in Santander’s usual No. 2 spot and playing right field. Stewart remains hitless on the year, but he walked twice and was hit by a pitch, raising his on-base percentage to .385.

“It’s going to come,” Hyde said of Stewart. “He’s just got to continue to take really, really good at-bats. Keeps working the process, the results will be there at the end because I do like the at-bats he’s taking. Got deep into count. A lot of his at-bats. One at-bat, he fouled off a bunch of pitches, took a walk. I think with the BP that he takes, and what we’ve seen from him in spring training, summer camp, he’s gonna hit some line drives and leave the ballpark here sometime soon. But tonight, I thought he took great at-bats and really got on base for us and helped us win that game.”

Andrew Velazquez, Pat Valaika and Dilson Herrera — all traditional infielders — have seen time in the outfield this year, and it’s possible Hyde turns to them in that way more often without Santander. Both Velazquez and Valaika have been used at shortstop as Hyde tries to be careful with the sore hamstring that landed José Iglesias on the injured list.

Making their way back

Depending on the length of any absence for Santander, the Orioles could use that hole to slide Opening Day center field Austin Hays back into the lineup after his broken rib is healed, moving Cedric Mullins to right while upstart rookie Ryan Mountcastle continues to get reps in left. Hyde said earlier this week that Hays was probably about two weeks from returning.

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In the meantime, the Orioles could also add someone healthy from their alternate training site in Bowie.

Both Mason Williams and Dwight Smith Jr. have been with the Orioles at various points this year, but either would need to be added to the 40-man roster again to join the team in Baltimore.

Prospects

The Orioles’ player pool features two outfield prospects in Bowie for a second straight year after spending 2019 with Baltimore’s Double-A affiliate.

Ryan McKenna, Baltimore’s No. 21 prospect per Baseball America, was added to the Orioles’ 40-man roster this past offseason, making a simple promotion if that’s their chosen route. Yusniel Díaz, the Orioles’ seventh-ranked prospect and the prized jewel of the 2018 Manny Machado trade with the Los Angeles Dodgers, is also training in Bowie, but it’s possible the Orioles won’t want to add him to the 40-man roster before they need to this offseason to protect him from the Rule 5 draft. In late August, Orioles executive vice president/general manager Mike Elias described Díaz as “really close” and “flying under the radar.”

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