Santander 'pretty banged up,' battling injuries

September 27th, 2019

BOSTON -- The Orioles' hope is that can return to the field before season’s end. But at this point, that remains up in the air.

Santander was held out of the Orioles’ starting lineup for the third consecutive day Friday, due to what manager Brandon Hyde called several minor injuries. Hyde chose to not disclose the nature of them, instead characterizing Santander as “really beat up and trying to play through some stuff.”

“He’s been playing pretty banged up the last couple weeks, and -- to his credit -- not saying anything to anybody and wanting to be out there,” Hyde said. “He’s a tough kid who wanted to finish the season strong, but physically he’s just not quite right.”

Asked to specify, Hyde said, “I’m not going to share. I think it’s a multitude of things that he has where he’s really, really sore and hurting a little bit.”

What’s clear is that Santander remains rooted in the Orioles’ plans, despite this minor hiccup and his September slump. If his season is indeed over, Santander will have finished it in a 13-for-84 (.155) slide, after hitting .295/.324/.538 with 12 homers over the previous two months.

All told, the 24-year-old former Rule 5 pick is hitting .261 with 20 homers and a .773 OPS (101 OPS+) in 93 games in his first extended look in the Majors. He’s rocketed past , and others on the outfield depth chart since returning for good in early June, and should arrive in Sarasota, Fla., next spring as the favorite to win the club’s starting left field job.

“Going into this year, we wanted to see what we had, and who we see going forward, who can be an impact player,” Hyde said. “Tony, for me, proved he’s a big league player. He has a really high ceiling.”

The Orioles are less certain about Stewart and Smith, who’ve gotten the lion’s share of playing time in Santander’s absence. Both showed flashes in 2019, but they missed chunks of the year with injuries and will enter the winter on uncertain ground. With the favorite to play center field come next spring and still likely to get at least some reps in right field, the most probable scenario is Stewart and Smith entering camp battling for one, perhaps, part-time role.

Sendoff planned for Trumbo

Hyde said the plan is to start in the club’s Sunday season finale, given it will likely mark the end of Trumbo’s tenure with the Orioles. Trumbo, 33, has played sparingly since completing his recovery from right knee surgery and returning to the active roster earlier this month, hitting .200 without a homer in 11 games.

Trumbo’s started six of those, all at designated hitter. He has repeatedly stated his desire to continue playing in 2020, though knows that’s no guarantee. He is in the final year of a three-year, $37.5 million contract.

A two-time All-Star, Trumbo hit .256 with a Major League Baseball-best 47 homers and 108 RBIs in 2016, his first season with Baltimore. He’s hit .243 with 40 homers and a .711 OPS in 247 games since signing a three-year, $37.5 million contract after that season. It expires this winter.

All told, Trumbo has hit .249 with 218 home runs and a .762 OPS over parts of 10 seasons with the Orioles, Mariners, D-backs and Angels.