Austin Hays was activated from the 10-day injured list and will bat fifth and play left field for the Orioles on Friday night at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Florida.
Hays, who had been on the injured list since May 24th because of a strained right hamstring, is hitting .252 with five home runs and 15 RBIs in 32 games. It was his second stint on the injured list. He missed 15 days in April because of a strained left hamstring.
Hays played two rehab games for Triple-A Norfolk at Jacksonville, where he went to college. Hays had one hit, a home run, in eight at-bats
“It’s good to have Austin back here,” manager Brandon Hyde said. “He feels good and ready to go. Austin brings us a lot offensively and defensively with a run tool, power and playing great defense, and it’s exciting to have him back.”
Hays played in the first five losses of the Orioles’ 14-game losing streak, which equaled the second longest in club history. He missed the final nine games and the five wins in the last seven games.
“I’m really proud of those guys and the way they handled everything,” Hays said. “Once June started, they were able to flip the script. They looked like a completely different ball team ever since. I’m excited to come back and join them and continue the momentum they’ve built.
“It was tough to sit at home and, because of the Covid protocols, I couldn’t be out there with my team and just try to help them through that in any way possible and support them, but I was watching all the games, and I was proud of the way they were able to turn things around.”
Hays has a history of injuries that have prevented from playing a full major or minor league season in the past four years. The hamstring injuries are troubling.
“I think the strength and performance staff has done a good job with an outline of what the rest of the season is going to look like,” Hays said. “Some things to do on a daily basis to help combat the injuries that I’ve had so far, and reset my body to a healthy standpoint, where I am right now and try to maintain that for the rest of the season.”
Hyde doesn’t want Hays to carry an injury-prone label.
“I think he’s still really young in his career,” Hyde said. “I’m not ready for that yet. He’s still got a long future ahead of him. He’s got major league ability, a lot of tough breaks. I think it’s going to turn for him.”
During spring training, Hyde was asked about finding playing time for an outfield of Hays, Cedric Mullins, Anthony Santander, DJ Stewart and Ryan Mountcastle.
Santander and Stewart also have been on the injured list, and Mountcastle has been used more at designated hitter and first base.
“It’s a season of 162 [games], and things happen along the way,” Hyde said. “You never really have your full roster and those days that you do, you relish, but you understand that things happen, injuries happen.
“That’s why depth is so important. You see that across the league. You see how many injuries there are. To have as many major league players as you can, that’s really, really important right now because of all the injuries.
“We have guys that are banged up. To have Austin here is going to allow me to give some guys days off that are needed.”
Armstrong stays: The Orioles outrighted right-handed pitcher Shawn Armstrong to Triple-A Norfolk. Armstrong, who was designated for assignment a week ago, had an 8.55 ERA in 20 games.