ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. - Orioles manager Buck Showalter says first baseman Chris Davis could begin a brief injury-rehab assignment as early as Saturday.
Davis, on the disabled list with a strained left oblique, is scheduled to take live batting practice on Friday. However, the threat of rain could alter those plans.
Showalter jokingly told a reporter to "slow down" when it was suggested that Davis would report to a minor league affiliate this weekend. Double-A Bowie and Single-A Frederick are home.
"He's going to take regular BP tomorrow on the field off a coach and if that goes well and he comes in Saturday feeling good, we could potentially do that," Showalter said following the Orioles' 3-1 win over the Rays. "That's what we're thinking. But he's got a lot of roads to cross before that happens. That would be the earliest.
"What's a lesser word than potential? That's an option if things go real well tomorrow. Right now it looks like we're going to get rained out of BP."
The weather was fine inside the dome tonight as the Orioles completed their three-game sweep, surviving another tense ninth inning to close it out.
"We all know where they're going to be at the end of the year, so you better do what you can while you can," Showalter said. "I thought Ubaldo (Jimenez) did what he could do and thought he was pretty effective for the most part. We got some big defensive plays turned behind him. Jonathan (Schoop) and J.J. (Hardy) and Manny (Machado) there, that's... And Stevie (Pearce) may have made the defensive play of the night. They take a lot of pride in it and they work hard at it."
Brian Matusz retired all four batters he faced and Darren O'Day escaped a jam to record his second save. Showalter didn't want to use Tommy Hunter and Zach Britton.
"I thought Matusz had a real key outing for us, especially not having anybody else right-handed in the bullpen," Showalter said.
"We have some confidence that people who are right-handed can get left-handed hitters out and the left-handers can get right-handed hitters out. That's kind of what we're going to expect from our guys, too, sometimes, to keep everybody healthy. You've watched. I'm not going to put them in harm's way. We've got to keep our guys healthy down there."
One night after Schoop played the role of hero with his tie-breaking, two-run homer in the seventh inning, Pearce belted a two-run homer in the second, reached on an infield hit and excelled at first base.
"It's something we talked about all off-season. Something Dan (Duquette) and our scouts were very adament about, the what-ifs. And there will be some more on the way," Showalter said.
"Sometimes, you have a year when you never get what you perceived as your team on the field for an extended period of time. We'll get Matty (Wieters) back at some point catching and we'll get Chris back at some point, and who knows, there might be another challenge there. That's why I spend a lot of time looking at Norfolk and Bowie and talking to those guys."
Jimenez allowed one run over 5 1/3 inning to record his second win in two starts this month.
"Good for the most part," Showalter said. "He's working with Caleb (Joseph) and he's not easy to catch. And he can be a challenge for a catcher who doesn't know him. I think he bent but he didn't break, kept us in the game, got some big outs.
"Stevie made a big defensive play behind him there. And one thing Jonathan brings, he can turn the double play.
"Stevie's had some big hits for us. He's a professional baseball player. He's a strong young man who cares about doing things right. He's always been a pleasure to have around because of the way he carries himself. It means a lot for him to win and contribute."