TB@BAL: Cruz exits game after hit by pitch

SARASOTA, Fla. -- Nelson Cruz took a pitch to his helmet Thursday afternoon by Rays pitcher Alex Cobb and exited the game in the bottom of the fourth inning, but appears to be fine after a CT scan came back clean.  

"[We'll] take a look and see how he feels tomorrow, but he feels pretty good," manager Buck Showalter said of Cruz, who was hit by his left ear. "It cracked the helmet.

"It sounded hopefully worse than it was. He seems to be fine, I'm going to talk to him when I get up there...like to say we dodged a bullet, but he didn't. It's a little early, but I think he's going to be fine." 

Cruz was able to walk off the field by himself and was fortunate that it was an offspeed pitch from Cobb. He was replaced by Delmon Young and walked to the training room with head athletic trainer Richie Bancells where he was further examined before being taken to a local hospital for a scan, per MLB protocol.

"I don't want to make excuses, but it slipped a little bit," Cobb said. "It was a curveball and just got away from me.

"Not just me, I don't think any pitcher wants to hit a guy in the head. It was a curveball, you know. If anything, any pitch you could hit him with, you'd prefer it to be that. It still stinks to see a guy go down like that. I've heard he's OK, so that's good."

Cruz is 11-for-39 with six doubles and four RBIs this spring. 

Aceves not on roster, will exercise opt-out clause

Aceves on capturing 2014 Caribbean Series title

SARASOTA,Fla. -- Right-handed pitcher Alfredo Aceves will not make the Orioles' roster and will exercise the opt-out clause in his contract to leave the organization, according to an industry source.

The move makes it likely Evan Meek will get the final bullpen spot, assuming there aren't any other trades or waiver-wire pickups. Zach Britton and Josh Stinson, who are both out of options, figure to make the bullpen as well.

Aceves, 31, was signed to a Minor League contract this winter and allowed five earned runs over 10 innings on 11 hits and two walks. He also had six strikeouts. The move would leave the O's with 35 players in camp.

Reimold to begin season on DL

TB@BAL: Reimold's RBI single in the ninth inning

SARASOTA, Fla. -- Nolan Reimold, who will be officially placed on the 15-day disabled list to start the season, wants to be clear: This is not a new injury or another setback with which the outfielder has to deal. Instead, it's a move that will enable Reimold to get back to playing the field and the Orioles to have a fully healthy 25-man roster come Monday's Opening Day.

"I guess [it's] kind of a mutual decision," said Reimold, who was scratched from Wednesday's lineup and will have his DL stay backdated from there. "It's best for me, best for the team. I think it's best for everybody. From my point of view, it's important for me when I play, to play well and to finish strong rather than go out there and be in pain or uncomfortable early on. I think it's the right decision from everyone's point of view."

Reimold is coming off back-to-back neck surgeries, including a corrective fusion surgery after he was cleared to play too early the first time. He has played in 56 games combined the past two seasons, his last one coming July 13.

"I don't have a problem swinging," he said. "Obviously, I DHed and everything. It's playing the field early on, got pretty uncomfortable. But where I'm at right now, I've progressed very well and I'm far ahead of schedule for anybody who's had this kind of surgery before. But it's not side to side. It's more like extension and the constant grind and pounding that a baseball season would take on you. What we do is make sure I can play the field every day before I come back, just to make sure it's OK. I have to be certain that I can play."

Reimold is well aware of the injury-prone label he's been tagged with by fans and the general criticism that went with the news of him going on the DL.

"I'm more tired about talking about it than anybody," Reimold said. "I'm ready for these neck issues to be over and done with. If I look at it from where I'm at right now, I've progressed a lot from the beginning of Spring Training to now. So I will keep progressing and I'll be 100 percent in the near future."

Santana throws off mound for first time

Johan Santana signs Minor League deal with Orioles

SARASOTA, Fla. -- Johan Santana threw off a regular mound for the first time Thursday and manager Buck Showalter indicated he could be pitching in an extended spring game sooner than expected.

"It is a long process, but there's big hurdles he's clearing every day," Showalter said of Santana, who is coming off his second left shoulder surgery. "I like the fact that he's doing it and is able to come back on his work day, his start day. Getting over those hurdles. He hasn't missed anything yet. You can see in his face how good he feels about it."

Santana said he will throw again Tuesday and three days after that will do the same thing he did Thursday, which included getting up and warming up, stopping and repeating the cycle.

"If we feel good and everything is coming along we are going to start facing hitters and building it up," Santana said of the plan following next week's mound session. "After that's it's just a matter of time. We don't know how long or how many times we are going to do that until we start getting into games and hopefully able to compete."

Santana, signed March 4, will stay in extended spring and work with athletic trainer Chris Correnti and said the biggest thing is his recovery. The 35-year-old, a two-time Cy Young Award winner, could be an option for the Orioles in June and has been working on throwing all of his pitches.

"Put it this way: I feel good," he said. "What that means, time will tell. I feel really good. So does that mean we are going to be on the mound facing hitters soon? I don't know. But I'm optimistic when it's time I will be ready and we will carry that through the season. Not just one game and one time. I want to do it the rest of the season."