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Orioles outfielder Dwight Smith Jr. scratched from Sunday's lineup with sore leg

Jon Meoli
Contact ReporterThe Baltimore Sun

Orioles left fielder Dwight Smith Jr. was scratched from Sunday's lineup with a sore right leg, though he pinch-hit in the eighth inning.

“In BP, just his leg, his quad was a little tight and I just thought it was the right thing to do was to give him a breather,” manager Brandon Hyde said. “He’ll be back in there tomorrow.”

Smith, who was meant to hit fifth against left-hander David Price and start in left field, was replaced in the lineup by Cedric Mullins. Mullins will bat ninth and play center field, with Joey Rickard moved to right field and Trey Mancini switched from right field to left field.

It's a tough time for Smith to go out of the Orioles lineup, as he homered in back-to-back games Thursday and Friday and walked three times Saturday, scoring twice. He's batting .263 with a .744 OPS, and playing strong defense for manager Brandon Hyde and the Orioles.

"He's been playing great defense in left field," Hyde said. "I knew he was going to be a good outfielder. I didn't know he was going to make the plays he's been making. That play in the corner the other night —he's been playing a flawless left field. It's been a huge plus for us, and what he's done with the bat, he's just been playing great baseball."

Cobb could return next weekend

Right-hander Alex Cobb (lumbar strain) played catch Saturday and is eligible to come off the injured list on Tuesday, but Hyde said he'll need a few days after that before he's able to start a game.

"Probably going to push him back just a couple days [after April 16] as of right now, just to kind of get him on the right throwing program," Hyde said. "But a positive day yesterday for him. The back felt good, and felt good after he threw. Look for him to come off the [IL], make a start hopefully in the Minnesota series."

The Orioles host the Twins for three games beginning Friday, and that's about as early as they're willing to push Cobb, who also dealt with a groin injury that kept him from starting Opening Day.

"We're in the middle of April," Hyde said. "We want him to be healthy. The back is a tricky deal, too. He's had a couple things in spring training that you don't want to push, and the back, you just don't want it to be an issue all year. You want to make sure he's healthy."

Around the horn

Boston still hasn't announced a starter for Monday, and may go with a bullpen game. The Orioles will also face a pair of bullpen games this week in Tampa Bay.

jmeoli@baltsun.com

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