Orioles make more cuts, Smith continues to impress

SARASOTA, Fla. - The Orioles made two more roster cuts this morning, reassigning infielder Jack Reinheimer and pitcher Josh Lucas to minor league camp.

Reinheimer follows Alcides Escobar out the door after the veteran was released yesterday, further reducing the competition for a utility job. Reinheimer was 11-for-28 (.393) with two doubles and a home run while mostly coming off the bench later in games.

Lucas-Delivers-Orange-sidebar.jpgLucas had a 5.06 ERA in six games with three runs and four hits allowed in 5 1/3 innings. He walked none and struck out six.

Thirty-five players remain in camp. Pitcher Gregory Infante never reported due to illness and doesn’t factor into the total.

Dwight Smith Jr. received a text message late last night from his father, a former major league outfielder, commenting on the ball hit off Red Sox reliever Heath Hembree that cleared the center field fence at Ed Smith Stadium for his second home run with the Orioles.

“He actually said, ‘I’ve never hit a ball like that,’” Smith said, grinning, “so that was kind of funny.”

Smith didn’t admire the flight of it, which gave the Orioles a 4-2 lead over the Red Sox in the seventh inning. He just kept running.

“I just put my head down,” he said. “I’m still figuring things out and just trying to ease into it and do what I’m trying to do and accomplish this spring before the season starts.”

The elder Smith, who played in 28 games with the Orioles in 1994, is visiting his son this weekend. The level of pride will shoot up a few more notches.

The Orioles didn’t get Smith into camp until a March 8 trade with the Blue Jays, parting with more international signing bonus slot money. He was far behind in the outfield competition, but has moved into the thick of it.

Smith has six hits in 14 at-bats and is leading off today and playing left field in Bradenton.

Meanwhile, the Orioles have optioned outfielders DJ Stewart, Austin Hays and Anthony Santander and reassigned Yusniel Diaz to thin out the roster and the hurdles in front of Smith. They also released Escobar, who has outfield experience.

“I’m feeling good. I’m just getting ready for the season. I can’t control that, so whatever happens happens,” Smith said.

“I never thought about it at all. I’m just working on getting my body in shape and getting ready for the season as quick as I can.”

And making an immediate impression that keeps him from joining the others at Twin Lakes Park.

“I want them to take away that I’m a gamer and I’m always going to go out there and play hard and give it 110 percent and I’m always someone they can count on,” said Smith, who was 1-for-12 with the Blue Jays before they designated him for assignment, his only hit a two-run single against the Orioles.

“I feel like I had to catch up because I missed almost a week, but I kept myself in shape and just kept trying to stay ready as best I could.”

Manager Brandon Hyde was asked last night whether he wanted to see more of Smith, who almost hit another home run in his last at-bat on a drive to deep left field.

“I want to see a little bit more of everybody, to be honest with you,” he replied. “Yeah, obviously D the last couple of games has bridged twice and swung the bat really, really well. Almost went left on left there in the ninth, so, yeah, he’s swung the bat good.”

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