It’s Aug. 18, the Orioles are in a pennant race – whether you believe it or not – and their starting right fielder is a Rule 5 pick making his big league debut.
That, in case you were wondering, is not normal. Not at all.
Anthony Santander, who has played 15 games above High A in his career – all recently at Double-A Bowie as a part of an injury rehab assignment – is starting for the Orioles in right field.
That wasn’t the initial plan. First baseman Chris Davis would have started Friday against the Los Angeles Angels, but he is sick. So is catcher Welington Castillo. Apparently, several players have been dealing with an illness about halfway through the road trip.
Doctors are supposed to examine Castillo and Davis on Friday to see if they need to be sent home before the game. Orioles manager Buck Showalter won’t broadcast that information, but said Ryan Flaherty will be the emergency catcher, if needed.
And with Davis unavailable, at least to start, Trey Mancini will play first, Craig Gentry is in left and Santander in right, batting seventh.
“I was hoping we could kind of ease him into it, but this is fine, too. Sometimes it works better that way, too,” Showalter said about Santander. “You’d like to make his path easier. And somehow ease it in a little bit, but sometimes it’s OK just to run them up there.”
Santander has been out all season with a strained forearm. As a Rule 5 pick that needs 90 consecutive days of service to stay with the Orioles, the 22-year-old switch-hitter will have to come back next year to get that service time. But they can’t send him to the minors now, so Santander was forced to the majors after his rehab assignment ended.
And he’s already starting. You can’t say the Orioles don’t provide opportunity. Santander continues the line of Rule 5 players the club has used, including Joey Rickard, Jason Garcia, T.J. McFarland and Flaherty, among others.
“I told ya all on the trip when we were talking about Anthony, they are gonna play,” Showalter said. “Something happens every day. You walk in here and two guys are sick, and you’re one of 25. Jason Garcia is gonna pitch, Ryan Flaherty is gonna play, TJ McFarland is gonna pitch. They’re gonna play.”
Hardy could go on rehab next week
Shortstop J.J. Hardy, who has been sidelined since mid-June due to a right wrist fracture, hit in the outdoor batting cage Friday and it looks like he’ll be able to start a minor league rehab assignment early next week. He could be back with the Orioles when rosters expand in September.
“He felt good, rely good. He’s been in the (indoor) cages some,” Showalter said. “We are hoping sometime early next week he goes out to a (minor league facility).”
Sunday starter still TBA
The Orioles have not announced who will pitch Sunday’s finale against the Los Angeles Angels, but Showalter has said he is hoping to give his current rotation rest. And that leaves the door open for Chris Tillman to come back into the rotation.
Tillman had a work day Friday, so it makes sense he could be the starting option for Sunday’s game. Dylan Bundy will be pushed back to Tuesday or potentially Wednesday, Showalter said. Kevin Gausman also is likely to get an extra day’s rest, which would line him up for the Boston series in Fenway Park next weekend.