Santander to IL (ankle); McKenna recalled

April 21st, 2021

The Orioles welcomed one outfielder, Austin Hays, back from the injured list on Tuesday against the Marlins, but they quickly lost another.

Baltimore is bracing to be without for at least several weeks after the right fielder suffered a left ankle sprain early in its 7-5 victory over the Marlins at loanDepot park. The O's placed Santander on the 10-day injured list Wednesday morning, recalling Ryan McKenna in a corresponding move. Manager Brandon Hyde said the timetable for Santander’s return was two to four weeks.

"Very positive news,” Hyde said. “Really pleased with the results we got this morning, because when I went out there I was expecting the worst.”

Returning to first base on an attempted pickoff in the first inning, Santander landed awkwardly at the bag ahead of Marlins starter Nick Neidert’s throw, and he slumped to the ground in pain. He could not put any weight on the ankle and had to be helped off the field by Hyde and head trainer Brian Ebel; a short while later, X-rays revealed no fracture. A subsequent MRI confirmed the sprain.

Santander has not been made available to discuss his injury.

Santander was replaced by Hays, who scored on Maikel Franco’s groundout three batters later and made a run-saving play at the right-field wall in the bottom of the inning. Hays, who returned from the injured list Tuesday afternoon, figures to see the lion’s share of reps in right field during Santander’s absence. McKenna gives Hyde another outfield option on the bench, potentially to use as a defensive replacement late in games.

That frees up Hyde to continue playing DJ Stewart every day in left and to cycle Ryan Mountcastle between designated hitter, left field and first base. But it does leave a sizable hole atop the Orioles' lineup, where Santander has served as the everyday No. 2 hitter for the better part of two seasons.

The switch-hitting slugger emerged as their top run producer in 2020, hitting .261 with 11 home runs, 32 RBIs and a .890 OPS in 37 games before a left oblique strain cut his season short. Santander dealt with minor oblique issues this spring, but he broke camp with the club and has batted .196 with two homers in his first 16 games.

“It was terrible, especially seeing him have to get helped off the field,” Trey Mancini said. “Hopefully he’s back soon. He’s the best guy and he’s an amazing player. For many reasons, we want him out there every day.”