BALTIMORE -- When DJ Stewart was recalled from Triple-A Norfolk on Tuesday, it marked the second big league opportunity this season for the outfielder after his first was derailed by injury. Now Stewart finds himself sidelined again.
Stewart was removed from Tuesday’s 9-4 loss against the Yankees after he was hit on the head diving for a ball down the left-field line in the fourth inning. Charging hard, Stewart dove past Mike Ford’s soft fly before the ball struck him on the temple, dropping safely for a double. Manager Brandon Hyde said after the game that Stewart had suffered a concussion on the play. He will be placed on the 7-day concussion injured list, per MLB rules.
Stewart was examined by the Orioles’ medical staff and initially remained in the game. He was lifted for pinch-hitter Jace Peterson the next half-inning.
"He actually joked with me when I went out there, saying, 'We have to stop meeting like this,'" Hyde said. "I thought that showed some pretty good awareness. Then he got checked out, and as the inning went along, he started feeling a little funny, a little dizzy, so we got him out.”
The club’s No. 23 prospect per MLB Pipeline, Stewart spent a month in the Majors earlier this season, but just seven games on the Orioles’ active roster. He hit .167 in those contests before missing three weeks after spraining his right ankle in a collision in Texas.
“It definitely took longer than I expected. I didn’t think I’d be out that long at all,” Stewart said before Tuesday’s game. “I’m going to go out there and show what I can do.”
He slumped initially once back in Norfolk but had come on of late, hitting .308 with a .918 OPS over his last six games with the Tides. Across two tours with Norfolk this season, Stewart was hitting .284/.391/.545 with 12 home runs and 46 RBIs in 61 games. He hit .250 with an .890 OPS in 17 games last September with the Orioles.
Though his status now is uncertain, Stewart was promoted Tuesday to assume the roster spot of right-hander Jimmy Yacabonis, who was optioned Monday night. He at least temporarily gave the Orioles a replacement for injured left fielder Dwight Smith Jr., who has been sidelined for the past week with a left calf strain. Hyde said Smith could embark on a rehab assignment as early as next week.
The move also appeared to put an end to the days of the O's two-man bench. The Orioles had been carrying an extra reliever for upward of a week, due in large part to lingering illness to Miguel Castro.
Castro resumed baseball activities Monday, giving the Orioles bandwidth to trim their relief corps by one. Yacabonis was the obvious choice, having appeared in three of the past five games. He started Sunday as an opener and logged an inning of relief on Monday, becoming the first Orioles pitcher since Scott Erickson in 1995 to start and relieve in consecutive games.
“We were playing short position-player wise,” Hyde said before Tuesday's game. “We were running out of bodies a little bit. So DJ is here and he’s going to get a lot of playing time.”
A corner outfielder by trade, Hyde said Stewart was unlikely to see opportunities in center field, where the Orioles are currently divvying up reps between Anthony Santander and Stevie Wilkerson. Stewart started in left field and batted seventh on Tuesday.
“I’m going to rotate those guys,” Hyde said. “They’re all going to play.”