Over a marathon 162-game MLB schedule, injuries are a continuing variable that every team attempts to plan for, but it is impossible to fully safeguard against.
Oh, how familiar the Baltimore Orioles are with that at this point in the current season. As the club continues to exceed expectations, standing at 37-22, the O’s are now faced with some significant injuries.
By far the most important was the recent injury that happened to centerfielder Cedric Mullins, who was having an All Star-caliber season. Mullins exited a game last week with a quad injury. The injury does not appear to be serious, but it did land Mullins on the injury list.
Third baseman Gunnar Henderson, who homered in Friday’s series opener with San Francisco, was held out of the lineup for the remainder of the weekend with a lower back strain.
Non-injury related, the Orioles pitching crunch got bigger last week with the demotion of starting pitcher Grayson Rodriguez to Triple-A Norfolk. The O’s also learned that two veteran pitchers they were depending on for return in early summer may be further down the road.
John Means, the one-time staff ace, suffered a setback in his rehab from Tommy John surgery. Thankfully, the setback was in his back and not his repaired elbow. Still, the setback could push Means’ return to Baltimore back to late July.
The bullpen also was unable to avoid the injury bug, as Dillion Tate had a stress reaction during his own rehab from an off-season injury. Tate has yet to pitch at the Major League level this season.
While the Orioles bullpen continues to be one the game’s best, Tate would certainly add depth to the back-end guys’ that have had some slip-ups as of late.
Staying in contention will come at a cost
While the trade deadline is still two months away, it’s becoming evident that the front office will need to bolster the roster in a significant way if the team is still in the playoff hunt by late July.
With an abundance of talent down on the farm, there’s already a logjam on the course to Camden Yards.
Baltimore may find itself in an unusual position as buyers at the deadline.
The big question is, how you would prioritize what the O’s need to add or should be looking to add at the trade deadline?
If it’s pitching, then the club may have to part with several of their prized prospects. If it’s offense, then the cost may not be as great. With the scarcity of pitching, big-league clubs just don’t give away proven pitching without receiving a haul in return.
Hicks is eager to revive his career, with Yankees paying the way
Aaron Hicks is hoping his arrival in Baltimore means a revival for his career. It’s been a rough few years for Hicks, who was recently released by the New York Yankees after hitting.188 with a home run and five RBIs in 28 games.
In his first game with the Orioles last week, playing center field, Hicks was 2-for-2 with a walk, and he scored twice.
Hicks spent eight seasons with the Yankees, regularly facing the Orioles.
Addressing the media upon his arrival in Baltimore, Hicks said, “I’ve had success here. I’m excited to see this new team.” Hicks said the youth on the team leads to added excitement. “They’re definitely young and exciting. They come to play every single day, which is what I like. I’m really looking forward to getting to know the guys’,” added Hicks.
At 33, Hicks is one of the oldest players on the team and will likely see plenty of time in center as the Orioles prepare to move forward without Mullins in the lineup. In his first four games in a Baltimore uniform Hicks is 5-for-11, and two walks.
New York is on the hook for over 75 percent of Hicks’ 2023 salary of just over $12 million.
While Hicks was certainly signed as a stop-gap measure, the Orioles would like nothing better than to have Hicks play his way onto being on the big-league roster after Mullins returns.