The Orioles’ outfield is back to full strength. Now the question is how manager Brandon Hyde will deploy all its pieces.
The O’s activated Austin Hays from the 10-day injured list prior to Tuesday’s series opener against the Marlins and optioned rookie outfielder Ryan McKenna to their alternate training site in a corresponding move. The club’s Opening Day left fielder, Hays had been sidelined since April 5 due to a strained right hamstring. Hays played in two intrasquad games at the alternate training site and one scrimmage game against the Nationals before being activated.
His return gives the Orioles four outfielders for three spots, likely pushing Ryan Mountcastle into the designated-hitter role on a regular basis. Hyde has also used that spot to spell Trey Mancini in recent days, with Mountcastle starting the past two games at first base. Hays is the O’s best defensive option in left, and he’s also capable of playing right and center, where Anthony Santander and Cedric Mullins are entrenched. DJ Stewart got the lion’s share of left field reps in Hays’ absence, hitting .250/.364/.393 in nine games.