Santander activated as struggling Orioles need jump start

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Having lost 10 of their last 12 games to fall a season-low nine games below .500, the Orioles hope the man voted their 2020 most valuable player can help jump-start their mojo.

Prior to Friday’s series opener in Washington, outfielder Anthony Santander was activated from the injured list after being sidelined for the last month with a left ankle sprain. In his brief rehab assignment with Double-A Bowie last weekend, Santander went 4-for-12 with a home run and two walks, indicating he was ready to rejoin a struggling lineup ranking 13th in the AL in both runs scored and on-base plus slugging percentage entering Friday.

“He’s been a big part of our offense the last few years,” manager Brandon Hyde said Thursday. “He’s a guy that lengthens out the lineup. He’s a switch-hitter that can handle left- and right-handers. He’s a really good hitter, can leave the ballpark. A good defender, so can’t wait to get him back in.”

Prior to injuring his ankle in the first inning of the April 20 win at Miami, Santander was off to a slow start with a .196 average, two homers, and a .551 OPS in his first 62 plate appearances of the 2021 season, but the 26-year-old collected a team-high 25 extra-base hits in just 37 games in the abbreviated 2020. Santander also batted .261 with a career-high .890 OPS in 165 plate appearances and was voted 2020 Most Valuable Oriole by the local media.

To make room on the 26-man roster, the Orioles optioned rookie outfielder Ryan McKenna to Triple-A Norfolk on Thursday evening.