When Trey Mancini cued a grounder up the first-base line for a double to snap a 24 at-bat hitless streak Tuesday, outfielder Dwight Smith Jr. watched from the Orioles’ dugout with his lucky break still yet to come.
Mired in his own skid that reached 30 at-bats with an 0-for-4 showing Tuesday, Smith was out of manager Brandon Hyde’s lineup for Wednesday’s matchup with the Washington Nationals. The team has a day off Thursday, as well, with Hyde hoping a two-day break does Smith some good.
“Just pressing,” Hyde said. “He looks like he's just trying a little too hard.”
Smith was hitting .249 and leading the Orioles in RBIs when he went onto the concussion injured list after colliding into a wall in the Texas Rangers’ outfield. Since his return, he’s hitting .155. He hasn’t gotten a hit since June 30.
“Just baseball,” Smith said. “You go through ups and downs, and you’ve just got to keep pushing. I think it’ll turn around sooner than later.
“I feel like the results are just not there right now. Process is going fine. It’s one of those things. It’s just baseball. Everybody goes through slumps. No matter how good you’re going, it’s gonna happen at some point. It’s just how you deal with it.”
Mancini and Smith have regularly filled two of the top three spots in Hyde’s lineup, so to have both struggling at the same time hasn’t helped an Orioles team already struggling offensively to improve.
Mancini got his hit Tuesday, though he admits he still isn’t quite back to being himself. Smith is physically dealing with issues that have him in the same position.
“He's also battling some aches and pains a little bit he's trying to play through, also,” Hyde said. “I think that's not helping, but at the same time, he's just pressing like a lot of people do. It's natural. And hoping he comes out of it soon.”
All-Star John Means will open the Orioles’ three-game series against the Red Sox on Friday. Means did not pitch in the All-Star Game because Red Sox manager Alex Cora saved him for extra innings that never came. Tom Eshelman, who was called up from Triple-A to start in Cashner’s place Sunday against the Tampa Bay Rays, gets another turn through the rotation and starts Saturday.
The Orioles will temporarily avoid using a fifth starter and have Asher Wojciechowski, who started Tuesday, pitch Sunday’s series finale against Cashner, who allowed six runs in five innings in his Boston debut Tuesday.
Aaron Brooks, the starter of Wednesday’s game, should be available to pitch Monday against the Arizona Diamondback in Phoenix.
Right-hander Dylan Bundy, on the injured list with right knee tendinitis, threw a side session Wednesday and is expected to come off the injured list when eligible Tuesday.
Around the horn
Infielder Hanser Alberto did not go on the paternity list despite his daughter’s expected birth Wednesday because it’s likely he’ll rejoin the team for Friday’s game. Alberto would’ve had to be on the paternity list through at least Friday. … Right-hander Nate Karns (forearm strain) allowed a run in two innings during a rehab appearance with Double-A Bowie.