Mullins expecting to play later this week

TAMPA, Fla. – Cedric Mullins is getting closer to making his return to the Orioles’ lineup.

Mullins exited last Monday’s game with a sore right hamstring after reaching second base in the first inning. He’s hoping to resume playing Thursday against the Pirates in Bradenton.

“Feeling good,” he said. “Progressions have been going really well. Been running with no problems. Just want to give it a couple of extra days to give the legs some endurance and get back at it.”

Mullins has appeared in five games and received 13 plate appearances, going 2-for-9 with four walks and a stolen base. The Orioles break camp in two weeks and Mullins said he’s got ample time to be ready for Opening Day on March 28.

“I remember I had a spring training where I had 13 total at-bats going into the season and played pretty well,” he said. “It’s about the mental prep, as well. But the swing’s feeling good. I’ve been taking some good at-bats.”

After going on the injured list twice last season with adductor/groin strains, Mullins isn’t worrying about a brief interruption to his camp preparation.

“Having some tweaks during spring training is somewhat normal for a lot of guys, just to kind of get the body used to the activity that we’ve been putting through, especially waking up early in the morning every day,” he said. “Different during the offseason, where you have a different schedule. So, get it out of the way in spring training, understand what your body needs to get through spring training healthy into the season.”

Mullins also said he wouldn’t have tried to play through the hamstring tightness during the regular season. A stoppage also would have made sense.

“I think I would have probably played it just as smart,” he said, “especially after last season, trying to push the limits a little bit cost me more games.”

Manager Brandon Hyde said Samuel Basallo, the No. 2 prospect in the organization, will make his spring debut later today.

Basallo will serve as designated hitter after Anthony Santander gets two or three at-bats.

Hyde hasn’t gotten much of a read on Basallo because of the elbow fracture that’s prohibited him from throwing.

“I’ve seen him take BP a couple times, saw him take some swings off some of our pitchers on the back field,” Hyde said. “I would see him in January when he was rehabbing, but I don’t think I’ve ever seen him play, so I’m looking forward to watching him today. We obviously have really high hopes for him. He’s a big-time talented kid.”

Tyler Wells starts Tuesday afternoon against the Rays in Sarasota. Cole Irvin opposes the Braves’ Bryce Elder Wednesday night in Sarasota.

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