PHOENIX — There will be a time when Colton Cowser’s promotion to the major leagues is permanent, with an everyday position in the outfield to go with it. But, as the Orioles embark on the final month of the regular season with Cowser one of their two September call-ups, that time may still be off in the future.

Cowser earned his second stint with Baltimore this season less than a month after his first ended with a .115 batting average in 26 games. He’s still just 23, only partway through his second full season as a professional player, so these struggles aren’t unexpected.

Two years ago, Cowser would have had more of a leash to work through the learning curve that is Major League Baseball. Yet, as September arrives, the Orioles are pushing for the postseason, and with that push comes limited playing time for an unproven option.

The return of Aaron Hicks (above) from the injured list could leave Colton Cowser without a spot on the Orioles' roster. (Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)

So, while Cowser is back among the Orioles, he may not be on the field frequently. And his inclusion on the roster entirely could be shortened because of Aaron Hicks’ impending return from injury.

The Baltimore Banner thanks its sponsors. Become one.

“Right now for me, we’re going to try to win every single game we can,” manager Brandon Hyde said. “Hope Colton can contribute when he’s asked upon. But we felt like getting some outfield depth was important.”

Both of Baltimore’s September call-ups, Cowser and right-hander Joey Krehbiel, could be swapped out as others near returns. When asked whether Cowser would be a member of the roster for the rest of the year, Hyde demurred.

“I think we’re day to day right now with everybody,” Hyde said. “We’ll see.”

Hicks said he’s close to feeling himself again after an injured list stint for lower back soreness, and he won’t require a rehab assignment. Right-hander Tyler Wells could be a candidate, although he hasn’t pitched in five days for Triple-A Norfolk. And left-hander John Means, recovering from last year’s Tommy John elbow reconstruction surgery, is another option.

Also, with the current landscape of the Orioles outfield, steady playing time might be hard to come by. Austin Hays, Cedric Mullins and Anthony Santander are the standard trio, with Ryan McKenna as a defensive replacement.

The Baltimore Banner thanks its sponsors. Become one.

Cowser’s left-handed bat could be an entry point, but against right-handed pitching Santander and Ryan O’Hearn are the must-start lefties currently. When Ryan Mountcastle was a late scratch Friday due to illness, Cowser wasn’t chosen to face right-hander Zach Davies.

In Triple-A, Cowser’s bat was the star. He holds a .963 on-base-plus-slugging percentage for Norfolk compared to a .433 OPS in Baltimore. Part of the discrepancy, Cowser said, was his mentality once he arrived with the Orioles.

“I was trying to do too much,” Cowser said. “Put a little bit of pressure on myself, and I don’t think that was necessarily the right thing to do. So I think going back down there, playing the game, gave me a better idea of what I needed to do up here.”

Once Cowser returned to the minors, he said, it was “eye opening” to see how different the game is in Triple-A compared to the majors. It gave him an understanding of where he wanted to improve.

Hyde said he wanted Cowser to work on “a little bit of everything” with the Tides, including his outfield defense. The reset with Norfolk allowed Cowser to have everyday at-bats again, which weren’t available to him with the Orioles.

The Baltimore Banner thanks its sponsors. Become one.

He’ll likely find himself in a similar spot this time, without a clear path to everyday playing time. So, when Hicks returns, it could be at Cowser’s expense. Rather than having him sit on the bench, the necessary development might come from more common plate appearances.

Then again, there have been other examples of young players struggling early in their time before settling in. Right-hander Grayson Rodriguez was demoted after 10 starts, yet since his return in July, he holds a 2.83 ERA. Infielder Gunnar Henderson overcame a slow start to become a rookie of the year candidate.

“It definitely gives you confidence,” Cowser said. “Speaking to both of them, seeing how they approach the game and things like that, I think it’s really going to be helpful.”

Similar to two of Baltimore’s other rookie stars, time could be all Cowser needs. Yet in September, with a playoff berth to shoot for, time might not be something Cowser receives in high abundance from the Orioles.

Andy Kostka is an Orioles beat writer for The Baltimore Banner. He previously covered the Orioles for The Baltimore Sun. Kostka graduated from the University of Maryland and grew up in Rockville.

More From The Banner