Orioles face prospect of opening without Means, Smith
The Baltimore Orioles placed outfielder Dwight Smith Jr. on the 10-day injured list Monday, and manager Brandon Hyde isn’t sure if left-hander John Means will be able to start the opener at Boston on Friday night.
Baltimore will start the season without outfielder Stevie Wilkerson, who fractured a finger on his left hand in an exhibition game at Philadelphia on Sunday night and will miss “significant time,” Hyde said Monday night after the Orioles’ 4-2 exhibition loss to Washington.
The loss of Wilkerson and Smith’s uncertain status leaves the Orioles lacking outfield depth. Smith recently returned to the team after testing positive for the coronavirus and still needs time to get into baseball shape.
Hyde said the Orioles have the option of activating Smith “at any time” and that he could still be on the opening day roster. But at this point, Smith is trying to work his way back.
“He just hasn’t participated in a full-squad workout,” Hyde said.
Means developed a sore arm late last week and missed his scheduled outing Sunday night at Philadelphia. He hasn’t been completely ruled out from starting the opener, but that would require a quick recovery.
“We’re definitely going to take a conservative route with John,” Hyde said in a video conference Monday before the Orioles hosted Washington in an exhibition game. “We’re still weighing our options.”
Means went 12-11 with a 3.60 ERA as a rookie last year. He was Baltimore’s All-Star representative and poised for his first career opening day start.
“Obviously it’s disappointing that he’s in this position right now because we’d all love to see him make that start,” Hyde said. “But we’re trying to get ahead of this a little bit and not push him into a place where we’re risking losing time with him down the road.”
Hyde did not name a potential replacement for the opening day assignment, but he dismissed the possibility of Alex Cobb, who is a bit behind in building up his arm after missing most of last season following hip surgery.
Cobb pitched into the fifth inning Monday night, opening with three hitless innings against the defending World Series champions.