BRADENTON, FLA. — Outfielder Dwight Smith Jr. has been swinging a hot bat since the Orioles acquired him March 8 from the Toronto Blue Jays for international bonus pool slots, which is a good thing when you’ve only got two or three weeks to win a place on the big league roster.
He entered Thursday with six hits in his first 14 spring at-bats (.429) as an Oriole, including a pair of home runs. Clearly he’s playing catchup, and he was penciled into the leadoff spot for Thursday’s exhibition game against the Pittsburgh Pirates to get him an extra at-bat or two.
Smith, 26, said he’s happy with the way he’s swinging the bat, but he doesn’t want to speculate on his chances of breaking camp on the 25-man roster.
“I’m feeling good,’’ he said Thursday. “I’m just trying to get ready for the season. I can’t control that, so whatever happens, happens.”
His chances probably improved when the Orioles reassigned several top outfield prospects over the weekend so they could get more minor league experience. But Smith insists he has never tried to handicap the outfield situation.
“I’ve never thought about that at all,’’ he said. “I’m just working on getting my body in shape and getting ready for the season as quick as I can. … I felt like I had to catch up because I missed almost a week [after being designated for assignment by the Blue Jays], but I kept myself in shape and kept trying to stay ready as best I could.”
He hammered his second spring home run as an Oriole on Wednesday night and it might still be going, which got him a big compliment from his father, former major leaguer Dwight Smith Sr.
“He actually said, ‘I’ve never hit a ball like that,’ ” Dwight Jr. said. “That was funny.”
More roster cuts
The Orioles announced they have reassigned infielder Jack Reinheimer and right-handed pitcher Josh Lucas to minor league camp, bringing the number of players still in major league camp to 37.
“I thought Jack played well,’’ manager Brandon Hyde said. “Like a lot of our guys, he’s very versatile and I moved him around a lot. He’s just a solid infielder. I feel like he’s really good depth for us and we expressed that to him. He did a great job in camp. I wish we could have gotten him some more starts, but we just had so many infielders.
“I thought [Lucas] threw the ball great. We expressed that to him this morning. He’s got some big league time. He’s got a lot of experience. He’s got a couple nice breaking balls that are going to be good against right-handers. It was just a numbers thing for him, but we expect him to do well in Triple-A and be an option for us.”
Sucre decision pending
Veteran catcher Jesús Sucre has been playing well and would figure to make the club, but Friday is the day he can opt out of his minor league contract if the Orioles don’t put him on the major league roster.
“I think he’s got a good shot to make the team,’’ Hyde said. “I’ve been playing him every other day. He went down and took a lot of minor league at-bats a couple days ago to try to catch up at-bats-wise. He’s catching great. He throws great. He’s doing a nice job. I we still haven’t solidified [the situation]. … We still have some things to sort through there.”
Around the horn
Catcher Austin Wynns, who has been rehabilitating an oblique strain, hit soft toss Thursday and will take batting practice Friday. … Mark Trumbo was not in the lineup Thursday, but he and Renato Núñez will each get a couple of at-bats at designated hitter Friday night against the Blue Jays.