The Orioles announced that they have placed outfielder Aaron Hicks on the 10-day injured list due to a left hamstring strain, with fellow outfielder Ryan McKenna recalled from Triple-A Norfolk in a corresponding move. Hicks departed last night’s game after appearing to injure himself making a catch and it seems he’ll need at least 10 days to recover.
Hicks, 33, had been struggling mightily with the Yankees in recent years, eventually leading to his release in May. He quickly landed with the Orioles and has had a resurgence since then, having hit .252/.349/.435 in 152 plate appearances for a wRC+ of 119, indicating he’s been 19% above league average. A lot of that time has been spent in center field, with Cedric Mullins having spent much of June on the IL due to a groin strain.
Since Hicks took over in center and played well, it allowed the club to avoid a significant drop-off while Mullins was away. He was reinstated from the IL in late June but landed back there last week, again due to a right groin strain. Hicks jumped back into the regular center field job in the past week but now he’s joining Mullins on the injured list. It’s unclear how serious Hicks’ injury is, but Mullins is without a clear timetable and may not be an option until late in the season. The club will now seemingly have to proceed without either player for at least the next 10 days.
The position might now fall to rookie Colton Cowser, who has logged 38 1/3 innings there so far this year and has been given the start for tonight’s contest. Unfortunately, his first 49 major league plate appearances have led to a batting line of just .128/.286/.154. That’s obviously a small sample and he has much better numbers in the minors, but the O’s will have a bit less certainty at the position for the time being.
Cowser figures to be flanked by Austin Hays and Anthony Santander, with McKenna likely in a bench role. Infielders Adam Frazier and Ryan O’Hearn have also seen some time on the grass this year and could factor into the mix. If the O’s decide they need to supplement that group, they still have some time, with the August 1 trade deadline one week away. The club is 62-38, putting them 2.5 games ahead of the Rays in the AL East and clearly in buyer position.