Davis’ return creates difficult roster decision

Chris Davis will report to Double-A Bowie on a rehab assignment for the second time in his career.

Davis also played two rehab games in September 2011, going 3-for-6 with a double. Unfortunately, it wasn’t enough to qualify for the Eastern League All-Star team.

It’s conceivable that the Orioles will activate Davis from the disabled list on Sunday, the first day that he’s eligible. Otherwise, he should be back in the lineup by Monday.

Who would have imagined such an early return after his injury was diagnosed and the word “oblique” caused grown men to weep?

The Orioles deserve a Web Gem for catching the injury before it worsened and cost Davis a month or more of the season.

A tough roster decision looms, which seems to be the theme this season.

The Orioles will need to remove a position player to make room for Davis on the 25-man roster. They only have 12 pitchers, so the bullpen will remain untouched.

Caleb Joseph would be optioned if the Orioles didn’t need a third catcher, but Matt Wieters has given no indication that he’s ready to move back behind the plate. The Orioles don’t have a timetable on that one, either.

Ryan Flaherty has options, but he’s a backup at all four infield positions. Someone has to do it.

That leaves David Lough, Steve Pearce and Delmon Young.

Lough is a defensive replacement in left field late in games. It’s happened for three straight nights. And he’s also a left-handed bat on the bench.

Yes, he stays.

Does it come down to Pearce versus Young?

Pearce is batting .300 (10-for-33) with two doubles, three homers, six RBIs and five runs scored in nine games since becoming the starting first baseman in Davis’ absence. He’s homered in three of the last four games. He’s also played exceptionally well in the field and provides insurance at the position if Davis feels the slightest bit of discomfort.

Young is batting .315/.351/.426 with three doubles and a home run in 15 games. He’s done nothing wrong. He’s just a right-handed hitting DH and corner outfielder on a team that’s covered in those areas.

“Obviously, we’ve got to make room for Chris in the near future,” Showalter said, “so that will be another tough call.”

A pleasant problem to have, but a problem nonetheless.

Shameless plug alert: I’m appearing on “Wall to Wall Baseball” from noon to 2 p.m. on MASN.

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