Orioles outfielder Seth Smith is nearing two full weeks on the sidelines with a hamstring injury that has lingered longer than he or the team hoped, but said he’s confident he won’t need to start the season on the disabled list.
“I don’t think so,” he said when asked about not breaking camp with the Orioles. “I think we’re moving in the right direction, and I still think there’s days out there to get work in and get ready for the season. Like I said before, it’s just about being 100 percent going into the season, and hopefully that comes before the season, obviously, so you get plenty of at-bats. But as of right now, it seems to be moving in that direction.”
Smith, acquired in a January trade with the Seattle Mariners for pitcher Yovani Gallardo, was immediately slotted into the left-handed hitting side of an outfield platoon and hasn’t had a chance to make much of an impression.
He has one Grapefruit League hit — a home run — in his most recent game, March 8. He also doubled in an exhibition game against the Dominican Republic the day before, but most of his spring action came early, before many veterans begin to ramp up for the regular season.
As the intensity climbed, the hamstring problem that bothered him last spring popped up.
“Just as we got more into spring and I got more intense with my work and specifically my swing, that’s when some of the soreness set in,” Smith said. “I tried to work through it a little bit and we decided to back off and let it die down and strengthen it some other ways.”
Manager Buck Showalter was also of the belief Tuesday that Smith would be ready for the beginning of the season. Smith took batting practice on the field before the game with his teammates.
"He’s close, but until he does a lot of baseball activities and then feels fine the next day, it’s just another day when we’ll see how he feels," Showalter said. "We’ll talk about it at lunchtime today. ... Especially with minor leagues opened up, we’ll get plenty of at-bats. He’s a veteran guy, kind of knows the drill. He’s a little behind, that’s obvious, but we think he can catch up."
Part of the team’s caution was that Smith didn’t let it recover last spring with the Mariners and ended up dealing with it into April.
“I just remember maybe for the first week or so of the season I was still treating it daily and trying to work through it, still not up to full speed but it didn’t last too far into that first month,” he said.
Around the horn: Closer Zach Britton said he struck out all three batters he faced in a 12-pitch inning against the Tampa Bay Rays’ Triple-A team at Twin Lakes on Monday. Britton said he expects to have four or five more outings before spring begins, including back-to-back days. … After ceding right field so often to newcomers Trey Mancini and Pedro Alvarez, Mark Trumbo is back in right field for Tuesday’s game against the Toronto Blue Jays.