Orioles outfielder Seth Smith has a stiff back and might need to go on the disabled list if it doesn't improve by Friday, manager Buck Showalter said Thursday.
Smith, who Showalter said could still be available Thursday if his treatment before the game went well, hasn't started since Monday's series opener in Chicago. As the big part of a platoon who faces primarily right-handed pitching, Smith would have been out of the lineup Tuesday and Thursday against left-handed starters anyway. But his absence Wednesday set off alarm bells, and Showalter said the Orioles could face a decision when the team returns home Friday.
"We probably have to think about the DL because the three days [backdate limit]," Showalter said. "This is the third day. Hopefully, we stay away from that. I'm hoping to get some good news today, but we'll see if he's available today. I don't know yet.
"He's got some back strain. Actually, I think it's more midback than lower back. He's had some just general lack of range of motion."
Smith, 34, began the season as the steady bat the Orioles hoped he would be, providing on-base ability at the top of the lineup and batting .300/.387/.488 in his first 25 games, though he missed some time early with a hamstring problem. But during his past 20 games (16 starts), he's hit .219/.286/.391, lowering his season line to .264/.344/.444.
Any long-term absence for Smith could be a major subtraction for a team that, without first baseman Chris Davis (oblique), is heavily right-handed. Smith is one of three left-handed hitters on the roster, along with outfielder Hyun Soo Kim and David Washington.
Britton, O'Day updates
Closer Zach Britton's live batting practice at Frederick on Thursday afternoon "went well," Showalter said. It lasted around 22 pitches and ended with no physical problems as the All-Star works back from a forearm strain.
“That was good to hear. A little rusty early, but [Scott McGregor] said he did well at the end,” Showalter said. “That’s a good move. That’s a positive today.”
Likewise, reliever Darren O’Day threw on the field before the game for the first time since going on the DL with shoulder soreness on June 9. Showalter said that went well, too, though O’Day won’t be activated when he’s eligible Saturday.
“He’s still got part of the process, but he felt good today,” Showalter said. “No problems. He and Zach today were both positives.”
Around the horn
Showalter said Davis will begin some treatment Friday, but is mostly still resting. ... Former Orioles right-hander Jair Jurrjens was handed an 80-game suspension without pay Thursday for testing positive for exogenous Testosterone, a performance-enhancing substance in violation of the Minor League Drug Prevention and Treatment Program. Jurrjens, 31, had been pitching at Triple-A in the Los Angeles Dodgers system. He hasn’t pitched in the majors since 2014, a year after he appeared in two games with the Orioles.