Posted on September 17, 2016 by Bryan Zarpentine
During the most important time of year when they find themselves in a heated race for both a division title and a wild card spot, the Baltimore Orioles are facing some uncertainty over MLB home run leader Mark Trumbo. The Baltimore right fielder was absent from Friday’s win over the Tampa Bay Rays because of back spasms. It was just the second game Trumbo has missed this season, creating some concern about how the injury may affect his availability or performance coming down the stretch.
“Trumbo came in with some back spasms — something he has, he told me, a couple times a year,” explained Orioles manager Buck Showalter before Friday’s game. “We’ll treat it accordingly. Hopefully, he’ll be back in the starting lineup tomorrow. We’ll see.”
Trumbo has struggled during the second half of the season, at least with regard to hitting for average, but he remains a constant power threat and an important part of Baltimore’s lineup. He hit just .184 during the month of August, but still accumulated 10 home runs in 28 games in that month. Thus far in September, Trumbo is hitting .191 and has seen his power numbers decline somewhat, hitting just two home runs.
Nevertheless, the Orioles would like to see Trumbo back int he lineup as soon as possible, particularly with the team’s depth issues in the outfield. The team is hoping to get versatile outfielder Joey Rickard back from the 60-day DL on Monday, but there’s no guarantee he’ll be ready by then, as he recovers from a torn ligament in his thumb. Baltimore is also without Steve Pearce, another potential fill-in for Trumbo in right field, as he is sidelined for at least a week after receiving a plasma injection in his elbow.
With Rickard, Pearce, and Trumbo all potentially unavailable for the next several days, Showalter did not rule out the possibility of calling up a player from the minors. However, Showalter believes that with the expanded rosters in September, the Orioles will have enough depth to get by. He adds that without expanded rosters in September, they’d surely be playing shorthanded as long as Trumbo is unavailable.
Friday against the Rays, Michael Bourn played right field with Hyun Soo Kim in left field. However, the outfield depth behind those two players is simply light-hitting Nolan Reimold and backup center fielder Drew Stubbs. With Trumbo out, the Orioles also have little choice but to use Pedro Alvarez as their DH every day, which could become problematic against left-handed pitchers.
The Orioles currently find themselves in two different races as far as the playoffs are concerned. Baltimore currently trails the Boston Red Sox by two games in the AL East, with a division championship obviously being the team’s primary objective right now. The Orioles are also tied with the Toronto Blue Jays for the two wild card spots in the American League. Baltimore and Toronto have a three-game cushion in the wild card standings, but a spot is far from secure, giving the Orioles everything to play for during the final two weeks of the season.
Starting Monday, the Orioles play a four-game series against the Red Sox before playing three games against both the Blue Jays and New York Yankees during the final week of the season. Getting Trumbo, as well as Pearce and Rickard, back for those games against the Red Sox and Blue Jays will be paramount for Baltimore’s postseason hopes.