Updates on Dwight Smith Jr. and Richie Martin

Orioles outfielder Dwight Smith Jr. confirmed this afternoon that his absence from summer training camp was based on a positive test for COVID-19.

Smith began workouts yesterday by tracking pitches.

“I had to run a lot of tests to make sure everything was running well with my body and also keeping my distance from everybody in this locker room, so we all had to do our part and make sure before I even stepped foot into this facility,” he said during a Zoom conference call with the media.

Smith-D-Drive-White-ST-sidebar.jpg“I feel great now and I’m ready to get ready for the season.”

The first game is Friday night against the Red Sox at Fenway Park, giving Smith less than a week to convince the Orioles that he should be included on the 30-man roster.

“Last year when I came over here it took me about two weeks because I missed time,” he said. “It was like a week of spring training last year, so I feel like I know how to get my body ready in enough time for this moment, and last year kind of prepared me for this year, too, to get ready.”

Smith said it was “kind of alarming” when the intake process revealed the positive test.

“I really didn’t have symptoms, all the symptoms that were thrown out there,” he said. “I didn’t lose taste or smell, my fever never reached over 100, I felt pretty normal. I felt like it was a common cold. If anything, I felt sick for, like, a couple days, but other than that I didn’t feel any symptoms. I felt normal.

“Everybody around me, my family was fine and I wore my mask. That was another thing. I always wore my mask, so I think that helped prevent it to spread from anybody around me. So I think that’s a big key to keeping this thing intact and not spreading it. If everybody wears their mask I think we’ll be much better off.”

Anthony Santander also tested positive and returned to camp earlier this week. The outfield is missing Trey Mancini, who’s undergoing chemotherapy treatments for stage 3 colon cancer.

“We’ve missed Trey, for sure, and we hope he’s recovering,” Smith said. “Last time I talked to him, he said he was recovering well. With that being said, we’ve got his back and we’re going to do our best to win games and compete at a high level, and that’s all you can ask for, especially with the way the season is going to start this year. We’re going to take that and just run with it.”

At least Smith is back in the race. He’s fallen behind the other outfielders in camp, as well as a handful of super-utility players.

“It was a little frustrating, but at the same time I didn’t want to put any of my teammates or any of the staff in danger, so me staying in my room was definitely the right thing and I’ll never second guess it,” he said.

“Everybody’s in camp now, we’ve got everybody accounted for, so the whole team’s here except for Trey, of course. We’re going to be coming pretty strong coming into the season.”

Smith has been one of the most vocal players in baseball regarding social injustice and the Black Lives Matter movement. Smith began his Zoom session by addressing the losses of civil rights leaders John Lewis and C.T. Vivian, two towering figures who passed away yesterday.

“Their path for reaching for equality in this world won’t be forgotten,” he said. “What they did for this country and for, like, their families and all that, it was very powerful. They did a lot of stuff with Dr. Martin Luther King and they all had the same message of continuing positivity throughout this world and everybody created equal.

“I just want to give my condolences out to their families and to make sure that message will continue down the road.”

Smith keeps trying to bring awareness to various causes and support peaceful demonstrations throughout the country, using social media as a platform that’s raising him above the crowd.

“I felt it’s definitely impacted me in a huge way and a positive way,” he said. “Seeing people speak out about what’s going on in this world, the only way to fix things is you have to talk about it, just like any other problem you deal with in-house or outside the house. I think it’s definitely molded me to be stronger and to speak out on these topics, and even though it’s not an easy topic to talk about, it definitely doesn’t need to just be swept under the rug.

“I felt like it was the right time for me to start speaking out about things and join a lot of people on that forefront.”

Infielder Richie Martin walked through one of the gates at Camden Yards last night a few minutes before first pitch in the latest intrasquad game. He wore a cast on his surgically repaired right wrist.

Martin underwent a procedure Wednesday, five days after fracturing a bone while diving back into first base to avoid a pickoff throw. He bumped into Chris Davis, but that didn’t cause the break.

“It was the impact with the ground,” he said today in his own Zoom call. “It was like the injury where the bottom of your palm goes into the ground. I didn’t realize how bad it was until that next day. I think it was more with the ground and just how the collision happened.”

Martin was competing for a backup role at shortstop and second base, and an expanded roster to 30 players, along with the cancellation of the minor league season, might have been working in his favor prior to an injury that will cost him the truncated 2020 season.

“It’s really disappointing, but at the end of the day there’s nothing I can do about it now,” he said. “I’ve just got to move forward and stay positive and just tackle this rehab the best way I know how. That’s all I can do at this time.”

The original injury was reported simply as a torn fingernail and laceration on his left hand, but attempts to play catch the next day revealed something much more serious.

“I was really surprised,” he said. “When it first happened, the first thing I saw was my nail and the skin hanging off and my hand was all bloody, so that’s what my main concern was. Later I found out my right wrist was a lot worse than I thought it was, and unfortunately, it ended up being broke.”

The worst part, of course, is being unable to play. There are no outlets for him. He’s shut down from workouts. Can’t swing a bat or throw. Just the down time that’s going to test his patience and challenge him to stay upbeat.

“Being injured is not fun,” he said. “I’ve had two meniscus surgeries and it’s not fun. But with that being said, there’s nothing I can do about it now. I’ve just got to tackle this rehab and just try to get back on the field as quick as possible.”

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