Orioles put Dwight Smith Jr. on IL; John Means Iffy for Opening Day start

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.

Smith recently returned to the team after testing positive for COVID-19 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 still 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 arranged outing Sunday night in an exhibition match at Philadelphia. He hasn’t been completely ruled out from starting the opener, but that would need 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.”

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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.

There were other injury concerns as the Orioles neared the start of baseball’s abbreviated 60-game campaign. Outfielder Stevie Wilkerson was examined by a hand specialist after hurting the ring finger on his left hand Sunday night, and outfielder Austin Hays got Monday off after being struck in the knee by a pitch in Philadelphia.

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