Before Wednesday’s series finale with the Tampa Bay Rays, the Orioles placed outfielder Anthony Santander and left-handed pitcher Keegan Akin on the injured list, with manager Brandon Hyde saying the designations, which came without a specified reason or length of time, were because of league protocols related to the coronavirus.
A player being put on the COVID-19 injured list does not necessarily mean they tested positive for the virus. They could be showing symptoms or have been exposed to the virus otherwise.
“We’re following the COVID protocols and had to put them on the injured list this morning,” Hyde said.
Hyde did not specify the exact reason Santander and Akin were put on the COVID-19 IL and said he did not yet know how lengthy their absence would be. Akin was scheduled to start Wednesday’s game but left-hander Alexander Wells, called up along with outfielder Ryan McKenna, is taking his place to make his first major league start. Despite not being on the active roster, both were already in Florida with the Orioles, with Wells being a member of the taxi squad and McKenna having just been optioned Tuesday when the Orioles activated John Means from the 10-day injured list for a left shoulder strain.
Santander missed the beginning of the club’s summer training camp last year in the buildup to the 2020 season after testing positive for COVID-19 during intake testing, but he managed to make the club’s Opening Day roster and earn Most Valuable Oriole honors. He has struggled this season, batting .231 with a .667 OPS while missing a month with a sprained left ankle. Akin has an 8.19 ERA in 13 outings, eight of them starts.
The Orioles announced in early May that 85% of their “Tier 1″ individuals — a group mostly made of players and coaches — had been fully vaccinated for the virus, which allows for reduced restrictions in the dugout and elsewhere. As of Major League Baseball’s latest public update nearly a month ago, 23 teams had reached that benchmark.
The New York Yankees’ first game out of the All-Star break against the Boston Red Sox was postponed because of several Yankees players testing positive for the virus, while the Philadelphia Phillies have also had a spate of players land on the COVID-19 IL of late.
Hyde said that Wednesday’s roster moves won’t lead to any further restrictions on his club “as of now,” though it provides a reminder that the virus can still have an impact on the season.
“We’ve seen it a few times with the league, some other clubs,” Hyde said. “This is really the first time this has happened with us, and it’s unfortunate, but I saw a couple other teams had the same sort of issue recently.
“Ready for it to be over.”