Jones close to return, but Showalter won't push him

Outfielder has missed last three games due to rib cage injury

Jones close to return, but Showalter won't push him

BALTIMORE-- The rib cage injury that's bothered Adam Jones kept him out of the starting lineup again for Sunday's series finale with Tampa Bay.

Jones played the first two games of the season but has not played since. Orioles manager Buck Showalter held him out of Saturday's postponed game and again for this contest. The team is taking it easy with its star outfielder early in the campaign.

"Any time you're dealing with that area, it's such an unknown," Showalter said. "It's so tough because you don't want to test it all the time. They don't really think at this point that it is an oblique. He's got one little spot there, he's got one little movement at the end that he feels it just a little bit. [It's] close but I'm not going to push it."

J.J. Hardy returned to the Orioles' lineup on Sunday after not playing Friday. Hardy also wasn't in the lineup for Saturday's postponed game, but he's back now after battling some calf tightness.

Mike Wright was scheduled to be the starting pitcher in Saturday's game but he'll now pitch Tuesday night in Boston. He had warmed up for Saturday so now the right-hander needs a few days to get ready again.

Kevin Gausman, on the disabled list, will make another rehab start on Sunday at Double-A Bowie. Showalter said he'll throw 3-4 innings, something like 45-60 pitches. Gausman is eligible to come off of the disabled list on April 19.

Brian Matusz also will go on a rehab assignment at Bowie. Matsuz is eligible to come off the DL on Sunday, but Showalter said the team wants him to pitch one more time before making a decision.

Hyun Soo Kim got his first major league start on Sunday against the Rays in left field. Kim didn't see any action in the team's first four games.. In addition, the Orioles wanted him to go to Triple-A Norfolk but Kim had language in his contract that said he had to agree to that -- and he did not.

"It's kind of like Spring Training," Showalter said before the game of Kim's first start. "There are so many firsts but it is baseball. I'm sure he's looking forward to getting in that element."

Jeff Seidel is a contributor to This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.