Orioles' Smith plays first game since concussion; Hays adjusts to Triple-A; Norfolk faces Yankees' Aaron Judge - BaltimoreBaseball.com

Rich Dubroff

Orioles’ Smith plays first game since concussion; Hays adjusts to Triple-A; Norfolk faces Yankees’ Aaron Judge

MOOSIC, Pa.—Twelve days after he suffered a concussion when running into the left-field wall in Arlington, Texas, Dwight Smith Jr. has been cleared to play. In his first of two scheduled rehab games against the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders, Smith was hitless in four at-bats. He grounded out twice and struck out twice.

Smith robbed Logan Morrison of an extra-base hit in the sixth inning with a leaping catch in left field.

“I feel way better,” Smith said before the game. “My body feels better. My head feels way better than it did a couple of weeks ago. I’m ready to go out there and play and have fun out there.”

Smith caught a fly ball hit by Texas’ Rougned Odor to end the fourth inning in the Orioles’ June 6 game at Globe Life Park. He fell to the ground, but trotted into the dugout and batted in the fifth inning, grounding into an inning-ending double play.

After taking his position in left field in the bottom of the fifth, it was determined that Smith couldn’t continue. The next day, Smith was placed on the seven-day concussion injured list.

“I never had a concussion before, so I didn’t know the symptoms,” Smith said. “My body felt off. Good thing I came out of the game when I did. I had to wait and just rest and wait for my symptoms to go away.”

Initially Smith  didn’t think he was hurt.

“I didn’t feel too bad,” Smith said. “I felt like I could have gone up there to hit. That’s why I did it. After I put the ball in play and ran, that’s when I started feeling dizzy. Everything started moving, and my legs were getting weak. That’s why I knew there was something wrong.”

Smith is scheduled to play for the Tides on Wednesday before joining the Orioles for their series in Seattle on Thursday.

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“A couple of games, just to get used to playing and just get the body back in baseball shape. That’s the main thing,” Smith said.

Hays in Triple-A: Austin Hays isn’t thriving in his first experience in Triple-A. Hays is batting .222 with a home run and two RBIs in nine games.

Hays skipped over Norfolk when he was promoted by the Orioles after his strong 2017 season at High-A Frederick and Double-A Bowie.

Last year, Hays missed much of the season because of a left ankle injury and later had surgery to repair the ankle. This year, he missed time because he slid headfirst into second late in spring training, spraining his left thumb.

Hays likes what he’s seen of the Triple-A life.

“It’s been nice so far,” he said. “It’s nice taking two buses instead of one and the spreads have been really good. As far as baseball goes, I haven’t seen any huge differences as far as competition or just anything that seems glaring. It’s baseball, just go out and play the game every day.”

In his minor league rehab, he began the season with Frederick, moved on to Bowie, and now is with the Tides.

“It is a little different atmosphere, just knowing that [the major leagues] is within reach,” Hays said. “Guys are going up and down basically every day, especially this season. I’d say everybody’s a little more hungry knowing that they’re just one shuttle away from going up, where they’ve been before.”

On the field, Hays does notice some difference.

“It’s the fundamentals of the game,” he said. “There’s less fundamental mistakes, just simple errors, things of that nature because guys are just more experienced, more crisp. They’ve played more games. That’s the only big difference that I’ve seen.”

The Orioles have Hays playing center field at Norfolk.

“I love center,” Hays said. “Instead of just running to one side of the field, you cover both, so you get more plays. It’s more fun to be in center.”

Eshelman starts on Wednesday: Tom Eshelman, who was acquired by the Orioles from Philadelphia for international signing bonus money, gets his second start for the Tides on Wednesday.

In his first start, Eshelman allowed two runs on seven hits in seven innings.

Eshelman was chosen by general manager Mike Elias in the second round of the 2015 draft when Elias was Houston’s scouting director, but was traded to the Phillies in the Ken Giles deal in December 2015.

“It’s always exciting to get traded,” Eshelman said. “It means the team wants you.”

“…I think the Phillies were in ‘win now’ mode,” Eshelman said “They have the lineup they needed to get. They were going out to try and find arms to help them with the big club but here, it’s more of like a process. You’ve got a lot of good arms in this clubhouse.”

Should the Orioles need another starter, Eshelman, who is not on the 40-man roster, could get a call.

Waiting on Hess: There was a locker set aside for David Hess at PNC Field, but Hess hadn’t arrived. He’s expected on Wednesday. Hess was optioned to Norfolk after Sunday’s game. Hess was 1-9 with a 7.36 ERA in 15 games with the Orioles and will be used in the bullpen by the Tides.

Judge on rehab: New York Yankees slugger Aaron Judge is rehabbing his strained left oblique with Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. In his fourth rehab game, Judge walked, struck out and homered against starter Tyler Herb. He walked against reliever Jay Flaa.

Herb was acquired in March from San Francisco in exchange for Mike Yastrzemski.

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