ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — The final week of the season has offered the Orioles an opportunity to get a closer glimpse of Rule 5 draft pick Anthony Santander, who was activated from the disabled list six weeks ago but played sparingly until recently.
Santander, 22, started his third straight game in right field in Friday's series opener against the Tampa Bay Rays. He also started both games at the Pittsburgh Pirates, going 4-for-7, including a three-hit game in Wednesday's loss.
Santander spent most of the season on the DL, so he won't fulfill his Rule 5 requirements this year. The club will be required to carry him on the active roster for an additional 44 days next season to complete his Rule 5 requirement.
"Obviously, we're going to have to make a decision on whether to keep him next spring to start with," Orioles manager Buck Showalter said. "[You want] every chance you get to see him. … I want to see the presentation, the way they look, the way they handle themselves between at-bats, how they handle failure — just the total picture so [when] you go into the offseason, you're not just wondering. You also know you have to be careful to not be fooled by something."
On Wednesday, the switch-hitting Santander finished with two doubles, hitting one from each side of the plate — an RBI double in the second inning off right-hander Chad Kuhl that one-hopped the center-field fence and another in the ninth off hard-throwing left-hander Felipe Rivero to right-center field.
"I almost forgot what it felt like to have three hits in a game," Santander said with a smile through interpreter Ramón Alarcón. "Very good overall, for sure."
Santander, who opened his season 2-for-16 from the plate, appears to be getting more comfortable as he receives more at-bats.
"Definitely a little bit more comfortable, trying to take advantage of the opportunity, demonstrate that I can help the team," Santander said.
But Showalter has said Santander's defense in right field will be a better indicator of his playing time moving forward. Santander dealt with two balls in the right-center-field gap Wednesday. He caught Sean Rodríguez's lineout in the fourth, but was unable to catch Rodríguez's double near the warning track in the seventh.
"I feel good," Santander said. "At the same time, I'm trying to go out there and work on it every day and improve. There's always room to improve, get a better jump in the field, attack the balls, make accurate throws. Always with the mindset to improve."
Seeing fly balls under the Tropicana Field roof will be a first for Santander.
"I more want to see how he looks defensively, moving around," Showalter said. "There's another [challenge] of playing in this place with the ceiling, because this place, believe it or not, is going to be here next year."
Trumbo sits again
Designated hitter Mark Trumbo was out of the starting lineup for the fourth straight game Friday and the fifth time in six games.
Showalter said Trumbo is fine physically and that the team is taking a closer look at other players. Pedro Álvarez started at DH on Friday.
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The Orioles didn't have a DH during their just-completed two-game series in Pittsburgh, but Trumbo also didn't play Sunday in the team's last home game of the season against the Rays.
Showalter said he spoke with Trumbo before Friday's game. He previous spoke with outfielder Seth Smith to tell him Austin Hays would see regular playing time in right field. The difference is that Smith is a pending free agent, while Trumbo still has two years remaining on a three-year, $37.5 million contract he signed before this season.
"He's fine," Showalter said of Trumbo. "I talked to Mark, like I talked to Smitty. Mark is going to be a big part of our club next year and he knows that. Getting another look there, and he'll be available. I had a good talk with Mark today about other things. They're fine."
Around the horn
Shortstop Tim Beckham (hamstring) returned to the lineup Friday after missing the previous three games. It was Beckham's first game at Tropicana Field since the Rays dealt him to Baltimore at the July 31 trade deadline. … Center fielder Adam Jones was out of the starting lineup for the third straight game after leaving Sunday's game with general leg soreness. Showalter said Jones could see action in the final two games, but added playing on artificial turf in Toronto has been one of the causes for Jones' soreness. … Right-handers Chris Tillman and Ubaldo Jiménez, pending free agents who have both made their final starts of the season, are available out of the bullpen, Showalter said. "Whether or not I use them is another [thing]," Showalter said. … Minor league infielder Steve Wilkerson, who batted .305 and posted a .798 OPS between High-A Frederick and Double-A Bowie this season, worked out with the team Friday before leaving for the Arizona Fall League. … Left-hander Tanner Scott, who is also pitching in the AFL, will make his first appearance in Arizona on Oct. 14.