Prior to tonight’s game with the A’s, the Orioles placed outfielder Aaron Hicks on the 10-day injured list due to a lower back strain, with a retroactive placement date of August 16. Ryan McKenna was called up from Triple-A to take Hicks’ spot on the active roster and as part of Baltimore’s outfield mix.
Injuries have plagued Hicks throughout his career, and his recent setbacks are at least less serious than some of his past season-shortening issues. However, Hicks missed about three weeks due to a hamstring strain before being activated last Monday, but he played in just one game before being sidelined again with his back problem.
As Hicks told MASNsports.com’s Roch Kubatko and other reporters, “as soon as I start hitting it kind of starts to flare up a little bit….Walking around I feel fine, doing little things feel fine, rotation feels fine. And then as soon as I start to try to fire it up and get moving as fast as possible is when it starts wanting to shut down.”
The Orioles’ plan is to shut Hicks down for around two weeks, manager Brandon Hyde told Kubatko and company, then re-evaluate. With this cautious approach, Hicks will need some ramp-up time and perhaps more minor league rehab games before returning, so the veteran seems to be looking at a rough return timeline of the second week of September. Because the injury is “kind of hit or miss right now,” as Hicks put it, the timeline might conceivably be shorter if his back spasms quickly dissipate.
The two IL stints have put a damper on a nice comeback run for Hicks in an O’s uniform. After the Yankees designated and subsequently released Hicks in late May, he caught on with the Orioles for a minimum salary, as New York is still paying the rest of the roughly $22.6MM still owed on Hicks’ contract through the 2025 campaign. The change of scenery seemed to help, as Hicks is hitting .261/.355/.440 with six homers over 155 plate appearances for Baltimore, after managing only a .211/.322/.317 slash line in 579 PA with the Yankees in 2021-22.
Given Hicks’ previous IL trip, the Orioles have gotten used to adjusting with Hicks in the lineup. Austin Hays, Cedric Mullins, and Anthony Santander will remain the club’s primary outfield trio, though Santander is missing today’s game due to what Hyde described as “general soreness.” Ryan O’Hearn and McKenna will also provide outfield depth in a part-time capacity.