Baltimore Orioles: Mark Trumbo’s Injury Could Open A Door

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ST. PETERSBURG, FL - JULY 25: Mark Trumbo #45 of the Baltimore Orioles reacts after striking out swinging to end the top of the first inning of a game against the Tampa Bay Rays on July 25, 2017 at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Florida. (Photo by Brian Blanco/Getty Images)
ST. PETERSBURG, FL - JULY 25: Mark Trumbo #45 of the Baltimore Orioles reacts after striking out swinging to end the top of the first inning of a game against the Tampa Bay Rays on July 25, 2017 at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Florida. (Photo by Brian Blanco/Getty Images) /
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Baltimore Orioles designated hitter Mark Trumbo doesn’t appear to be ready for game action anytime soon. What does this mean for the large group of young outfielders currently competing for a roster spot?

While Baltimore Orioles pitcher Dean Kremer is reportedly progressing well from an oblique injury suffered before appearing in camp and nothing serious seems to be wrong with fire-ball reliever Zach Pop, the injury news isn’t as positive for two significant position players.

Orioles beat reporter Roch Kubatko updated fans on the status of Mark Trumbo on Tuesday morning, including a series of quotes from manager Brandon Hyde.

"“He had a significant knee injury, but everybody’s been super excited about how he’s come back off it, and the work he’s put in to come back has been unbelievable and his knee’s responding well,” Hyde said."

While the Baltimore Orioles designated hitter has been taking batting practice and hitting off live pitching, he has yet to begin extensive running and appears to be progressing very slowly and cautiously in his rehab. Hyde’s comments later in Kubatko’s report confirm that the Orioles are going to take it slow with Trumbo, even after he is cleared for a full go.

Nothing from the past few days suggests Trumbo will be in the lineup on March 12 when Baltimore takes on the New York Yankees, his original expected debut date. The regular season begins on March 28th in New York. The odds of Trumbo being ready for that game seem low.

Will Mark Trumbo begin the season on the injured list? Let’s assume this will be the case, allowing him to stay in extended spring to test the knee before starting the season on a rehab assignment in the minors to get his at-bats in.

The question then becomes, who gets the roster spot? There are so many scenarios, it is hard to decide what the best option is. If I can play O’s decision maker for a second, here’s what I do. You can then tell me how wrong I am.

There’s a big competition going on right now in the outfield. Trey Mancini and Cedric Mullins are favorites to start in left and center field, respectively. Eric Young Jr. Joey Rickard, DJ Stewart, Austin Hays, Yusniel Diaz, and Anthony Santander are all battling for a roster spot.

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If Trumbo begins the year on the injured list and Trey Mancini takes his place in the DH spot, there’s an opportunity for a young outfielder to seize. Yusniel Diaz and Austin Hays have had surprising springs and are giving fans a reason to be optimistic about the future, but what does having either outfielder in the majors on Opening Day do for the organization, other than sell a few more tickets? There’s no rush with Hays (ankle surgery) or Diaz (top prospect, just 22 years old) so a little time in Norfolk won’t do any harm.

At the same time, Hays didn’t rise to the major leagues so quickly for no reason and he has looked really good.

How about a starting outfield of Cedric Mullins, DJ Stewart, and Santander? Taking a few weeks at the beginning of the year to further evaluate a guy like Anthony Santander isn’t a bad idea. If he isn’t working out, you know what you have and you bring up Hays.

Santander is currently hitting .467 this spring, with a 1.463 OPS and a team-leading four doubles (immediately after publishing, Santander mashed his first home run of the spring ). Stewart has had some less than impressive at-bats, but he also has four doubles (in 18 at-bats). He plays a serviceable defense in the outfield and provides speed on the basepaths, but needs to show he is more than fourth-outfielder.

With Hays and Diaz ready to storm Camden Yards, Stewart and Santander will need to step up in impressive fashion, if they are given this opportunity to start the season. Trumbo’s injury may be the opportunity one, or both, of these young outfielders needs.

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First baseman Chris Davis was scratched from Tuesday’s lineup with a hip flexor strain. His status is now day-to-day. In five games, Davis is 1-12 with seven strikeouts. Luckily, Ryan Mountcastle is looking pretty good over at first base.

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