Santander goes on IL; return in doubt

September 6th, 2020

For one of baseball’s breakout stars of 2020, the season might be over.

The Orioles on Saturday placed slugger on the injured list with a right oblique strain that is expected to sideline him for at least several weeks, according to manager Brandon Hyde. With about three weeks of games remaining, it is “definitely a possibility” Santander won’t play again this season, Hyde said.

Suffering the injury in Friday’s 6-5 loss in Game 1 to the Yankees, Santander winced after swinging through a 2-1 pitch in the eighth inning from Jonathan Holder. He finished the at-bat by flying out to left, but he was removed the following half inning and underwent testing at Oriole Park. Imaging done Friday night revealed the strain, prompting the Orioles to recall outfielder Mason Williams from their alternate training site in Bowie, Md., for depth.

“He’s going to miss a significant amount of time,” Hyde said. “When he came out of the game, that didn’t look good. That one definitely hurt. Tony is a huge loss for us. I was really happy with the year he’s had."

The switch-hitting Santander had been the Orioles' most productive hitter for long stretches this season, hitting .261 with 11 homers and an .890 OPS across 37 games. His 32 RBIs were tied for fifth in the Majors and tied for third among American League hitters entering Saturday.

The former Rule 5 Draft pick hit 20 homers in his first stretch of regular MLB at-bats last year, emerging as one of the bright spots of the Orioles’ 2019 season. After arriving late to Summer Camp due to a positive COVID-19 test, Santander got off to one of the hottest starts in MLB once the season began. He also showed marked improvement defensively in right field by a variety of metrics.

“He’s really come on the map for me,” Hyde said. “All the positive things I said about him toward the end of the year last year, he’s improved even more. It’s very disappointing.”

In Santander’s absence, the Orioles are expected to give the bulk of the reps in right field to DJ Stewart, who has been passed by Santander, Ryan Mountcastle and others since debuting in 2018. Stewart opened 2020 as the Orioles’ starting left fielder but has yo-yoed back and forth between Baltimore and the alternate training site in recent weeks; he was 0-for-16 but had drawn nine walks in 28 plate appearances entering Saturday.

Losing Santander is the latest blow for an Orioles team that’s struggled with injuries all season. They are already playing without starting center fielder Austin Hays (fractured rib), reliever Shawn Armstrong (back) and slugger Chris Davis (knee). They have lost Wade LeBlanc (elbow), Richie Martin (fractured wrist), Stevie Wilkerson (fractured pinkie) and Trey Mancini (colon cancer) for the season.

Stand Up To Cancer

For the fifth consecutive year, MLB and its clubs raised awareness for childhood cancer during all games on Saturday for a special league-wide day in home ballparks. MLB’s “Childhood Cancer Awareness Day,” held during Childhood Cancer Awareness Month in collaboration with Stand Up To Cancer (SU2C), combined a visual and ceremonial demonstration of support for the cause with outreach to local hospitals treating young patients in their communities. Childhood cancer is the leading cause of death by disease among children in the United States and Canada.

The Orioles joined all on-field personnel, including players, coaches and umpires around baseball in wearing gold ribbon decals and wristbands during Saturday's game against the Yankees. Clubs also featured ceremonial activities in ballparks. Club activities included pregame ceremonies, cardboard cutouts of pediatric patients in stands at ballparks, virtual patient first pitches, virtual player hospital visits and more.

The Orioles welcomed 7-year-old Baltimore native Andrew Lowman, a John Hopkins Children’s Center patient, to throw a ceremonial first pitch, and curated a virtual meet-and-greet for pediatric cancer patients with right-hander David Hess.

Cancer awareness is an issue that hits especially close to home this year for the Orioles, who’ve been playing without Mancini as their star slugger undergoes treatment for colon cancer. Mancini, who is scheduled to finish chemotherapy treatment this month, could be seen doing DIY defensive drills in a video posted to Twitter by his girlfriend, Sara Perlman, on Saturday. The Orioles and Mancini are both hopeful he can return to the field in 2021.

Childhood cancer awareness efforts in previous seasons have included special pediatric cancer awareness batting-practice T-shirts, online campaigns to empower fans to hold fundraisers for pediatric cancer research and donations to local children’s hospitals. MLB and its clubs have supported the fight against cancer through a variety of initiatives for many years. As Stand Up To Cancer’s founding donor, Major League Baseball has pledged more than $50 million to SU2C’s collaborative cancer research programs, providing invaluable support. Launched in 2013, the work of the Stand Up To Cancer/St. Baldrick’s Foundation Pediatric Cancer Dream Team has helped to develop new immunotherapy approaches and contributed to the development of two new treatments for difficult-to-treat pediatric leukemias that have been approved by the FDA. MLB has recognized SU2C at its jewel events since the '09 World Series.

O's claim Fulmer
The Orioles claimed right-hander Carson Fulmer off waivers from the Pirates to further bolster their pitching depth.

A first-round Draft pick of the White Sox in 2015, Fulmer pitched to a 6.56 ERA across parts of four seasons with Chicago in a variety of roles. He began this season with the White Sox, bouncing on the waiver wire to Detroit, then Pittsburgh and now Baltimore. The Orioles are his fourth organization since Summer Camp.

Another fresh face
The Orioles also added No. 26 prospect Rylan Bannon to their 60-man player pool Saturday. Part of the July 2018 trade with the Dodgers for Manny Machado, Bannon reached Triple-A last season before a long run in the Arizona Fall League. Unlike many of the prospects at the Orioles’ Bowie site for development purposes, the 24-year-old infielder has an outside chance of debuting this month.