Orioles' Scott off DL as Mata demoted

BALTIMORE -- Luke Scott returned from the 15-day disabled list Monday and was immediately placed in the Baltimore Orioles' starting lineup as their designated hitter against Tampa Bay.

Scott strained his left hamstring on June 30 while running hard on a drive that went over the fence for a home run. He is batting .274 with 12 homers and 30 RBIs in 66 games.

The Orioles will eventually use Scott in left field or at first base, but the plan initially was to play him at DH.

"Right now we have be careful with Luke," interim manager Juan Samuel said.

Scott played the field during his rehabilitation assignment in the Gulf Coast League without incident.

"I played fine. [But] I do need to be smart about it and not blow out of the box," he said. "I've got to kind of watch it. If I try to do everything 100 percent, you set yourself up for a lot of risk."

He was concerned about how the layoff would affect his timing at the plate.

"The only thing I can do is look at the positive: I'm back playing," he said. "I did the best I could down there to get ready as far as seeing some pitches, getting healthy. So my swing feels good, and mechanically I'm sound."

The Orioles made room for Scott by optioning right-handed reliever Frank Mata to Triple-A Norfolk. Mata made his major league debut on May 26 and had a 7.79 ERA in 15 games.

He was sent down because the Orioles needed an extra bat on the bench with outfielder Corey Patterson day-to-day with a bruised left heel.

Mata was thankful for the opportunity, and planned to work hard to return.

"That day when I debuted I was nervous, but that was my first time in the big leagues," he said. "It was a beautiful experience here."