Orioles first baseman Ryan Mountcastle left Wednesday’s series finale against the Cardinals with left shoulder discomfort.
Mountcastle swung and fouled off a pitch in the first inning, grimacing after feeling a pop in his shoulder. The at-bat resulted in a walk, and Mountcastle was examined at first base by team medical officials. He lifted his shoulder and maneuvered it in different directions before deciding to stay in the game. He played defense in the second and third before he was replaced by Ramon Urías.
He will get imaging done on Thursday.
“Yeah, I mean it doesn’t feel good,” he said when asked if he’s concerned. “Just praying for the best.”
Outfielder Heston Kjerstad was removed from Triple-A Norfolk’s game in the fifth inning Wednesday, likely signaling he would be the player called up if needed. A first-round pick in the 2020 draft, Kjerstad didn’t take his first minor league at-bat until 2022, sitting out the first two years of his professional career with myocarditis and later a hamstring injury. He could slot in a corner outfield spot but has also played 22 games at first base for Norfolk and would bring with him a powerful left-handed bat.
If Mountcastle has to sit out for any period of time, it’ll leave a big dent in the Orioles’ lineup. He missed most of June with vertigo, returning in July right before the All-Star break. Since then, he’s hit .328 with seven home runs, splitting time as a first baseman and designated hitter.
“You don’t want to lose anyone right now, especially Ryan,” manager Brandon Hyde said. “Hopefully he’s OK tomorrow.”
Kjerstad has played only 38 games at first in the minors (and three in college), so he is unlikely to be a direct replacement for Mountcastle. The Orioles would probably lean on Ryan O’Hearn, who has been platooning with Mountcastle, while Urías also has limited experience at that position — he’s played 11 career games there.