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‘It could be a strain. It could be a cramp.’ – Boston Herald

The Orioles were already down one center fielder and, at least for Monday night in Philadelphia, they were down another.

Aaron Hicks dove for a line drive hit by Johan Rojas in the third inning of the Orioles’ series opener against the Philadelphia Phillies. He threw the ball back to the infield and sat for a moment before training staff members came out to evaluate him. He eventually left the game with a left hamstring injury and was replaced in center field by rookie Colton Cowser.

Orioles manager Brandon Hyde said Hicks would be evaluated Tuesday and that they’re hoping it’s a cramp.

“It could be a strain. It could be a cramp,” he said.

Hicks ran to his right on the liner from Rojas and fully stretched out. He appeared to make a spectacular catch and — although replay later showed the ball popped out of his glove — Rojas was ruled out.

Entering Monday, Hicks is hitting .254 in 41 games for the Orioles this season with a .351 on-base percentage. As his replacement, Cowser was a hero Monday, driving in the Orioles’ game-winning run in the ninth inning as they topped the Phillies, 3-2.

The Orioles are already without regular center fielder Cedric Mullins, who returned to the injured list last week, so Hicks’ exit could spell bad news. Mullins missed 20 games earlier this year with a groin strain, prompting the Orioles to sign Hicks.

“It was progressing, has been progressing,” Hyde said of Mullins’ health at the time. “It’s just not progressing at the rate that we were hoping, and so the right thing to do is to make sure he’s all the way healthy and running well before we activate him.”

Mullins took batting practice last week but said he didn’t know how long it would be until he could return.

If Hicks does miss time with an injury, Austin Hays — who started Monday in left field — can also play center. Ryan McKenna, currently in Triple-A Norfolk, has also played center for the Orioles this season.


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