Wilkerson (finger fracture) uncertain for 2020

July 21st, 2020

For the Orioles, the injury bug continues to strike. Utility man has been diagnosed with a phalanx fracture in his left ring finger, manager Brandon Hyde said after the club's exhibition game against the Nationals Monday night, putting his 2020 season in jeopardy.

Hyde said Wilkerson will miss “significant time” due to the injury, which the 28-year-old suffered making a sliding play in right field during Sunday’s exhibition win over the Phillies. Wilkerson immediately exited the game after the play and consulted a hand specialist Monday.

“It’s very disappointing,” Hyde said. “It was kind of a freak injury, freak accident where the finger just bent back. He’s very down about it. It’s a tough blow for him and a tough blow for us. He’s a big part of this team, not only what he brings to the field, but the life and personality he brings to the clubhouse. It’s an unfortunate injury.”

Wilkerson hit .225 with 10 homers and a .669 OPS as a rookie in 2019, playing mostly center field. The natural infielder was one of several Orioles in the mix for a utility role this spring, battling with Andrew Velazquez, Dilson Herrera, Pat Valaika and Richie Martin for two or three bench spots. Injuries have whittled that competition down significantly, with Martin (right wrist surgery) and Wilkerson now likely out for the year.

"This is a really tough one to swallow," Wilkerson said in an Instagram post. "The level of excitement I had for this coming week rivals anything I can remember. Nothing makes me happier then walking through the doors at Camden every day to go to work and I am going to miss all the people that make it so special, temporarily. The game, the camaraderie, and putting on that uni are some of the things I treasure most."

It is the latest in the wave of injuries to hit Baltimore since the commencement of Summer Camp. The chance exists that the O's open the regular season without ace John Means and upstart reliever Hunter Harvey (both due to arm fatigue), outfielder Dwight Smith Jr. (COVID-19 injured list) and backup catcher Chance Sisco, who has been held out of action since being hit by a pitch in the triceps recently. The club has also lost star slugger Trey Mancini (colon cancer treatment), depth lefty Ty Blach (Tommy John surgery), Martin and now likely Wilkerson for the season.

"I think your depth is going to be tested this year," Hyde said. "That is something we talked about going in was we just don’t know on a day-to-day basis what it's going to be like. We’ve had our share of guys going down so far, most of it just being unfortunate accidents."