The scoop on Chris Davis

The play drew more attention to third baseman Manny Machado, which tends to happen with any ball hit in his general direction. The magician with leather on his left hand and a cannon for a right arm leaped to knock down a line drive Wednesday night, reached back with the casual manner of someone picking up a quarter off the floor and fired to first baseman Chris Davis.

Or in his general direction.

Machado trusted that Davis would come off the bag, play the hop and record the out. Davis obliged, of course, fielding the ball with ease and taking the necessary steps to beat the runner to the base.

Davis’ work should be featured on MLBTradeRumors.com. He leads the league in scoops.

There were at least four on opening day, including the finish on Machado’s spectacular diving stop along the line and throw while falling backward on one knee. Machado rolled his left wrist and scraped the skin off the back of his hand, the raspberry stinging more while he was bathed in applause.

Davis has earned his own prolonged ovations. A Gold Glove Award finalist in 2016, he’s off to a spectacular start defensively and he also tossed in an opposite-field home run for good measure. (It was measured at 408 feet.)

Chris-Davis-fielding-white-sidebar.jpg“He gives guys such great confidence to throw quickly,” said manager Buck Showalter. “Bobby (Dickerson) always talks about missing down. We can defend a ball down, we can’t defend a ball that’s up and takes us off the bag. I think people lose sight of how hard that is.

“Chris, probably five or six times, it seemed like, and we never take it for granted. I know it gives the infielders a lot of confidence. They never take it for granted. When you’re throwing from those angles at that pace, you’re not always going to be as accurate as you normally would be. It gives them great confidence and Chris takes a lot of pride in it. He works on it every day.

“It’s hard to simulate, but Bobby does a good job with it and Chris is very receptive to it.”

Davis will be back at first base tonight, and likely in the cleanup spot, for the series opener against the Yankees at Camden Yards. The Orioles are facing right-hander Luis Severino, who’s held the current group to a .170 average (9-for-53).

Davis is 0-for-7 with four strikeouts against Severino. Mark Trumbo is 4-for-6 with a double and two home runs and Machado is 3-for-8 with a double and two home runs.

Seth Smith figures to move atop the order again, as he did on opening day against Blue Jays right-hander Marco Estrada. He’s 1-for-2 with a double against Severino.

Ubaldo Jiménez is 4-5 with a 6.05 ERA and 1.672 WHIP against the Yankees in 11 starts over 58 innings. Jacoby Ellsbury is 7-for-17 with a home run, Matt Holliday is 4-for-12 and Brett Gardner is 3-for-17.

The Orioles won their first seven games last season and will try tonight to go 3-0. The bar has been raised a little higher in Baltimore following three playoff berths and no sub-.500 finishes in the last five years. Simply being competitive no longer is satisfactory.

“We’ve always held ourselves to high expectations,” said shortstop J.J. Hardy. “I think everyone else is, too, so that may be the difference, but we expect to win, we expect to be right in the mix all the way until the end.”

Down on the farm, Pedro Álvarez played right field last night for Triple-A Norfolk and had two home runs, a walk and five RBIs by the fourth inning. He walked again in his next plate appearance.

Mike Wright allowed five runs, but only two earned, in three-plus innings. He gave up six hits and walked two batters.

Outfielder Henry Urrutia dropped off the final roster, with the Orioles moving him to short-season Single-A Aberdeen. It’s a paper move, since the IronBirds don’t open their season until next month. The temporarily inactive list.

Outfielder Mike Yastrzemski was placed on the disabled list as he continues to recover from sports hernia surgery.

According to @TidesNotes, Norfolk’s active position players have combined for 3,799 major league games - more than the Reds (3,791), Brewers (3,193) and Padres (3,039).

Left-hander Jed Bradley was placed on Double-A Bowie’s pitching staff. Audry Perez and Austin Wynns are the catchers.

This is another example of the Orioles’ improved catching depth, which exists despite trading Jonah Heim last year. Perez and Wynns are in the Eastern League because Norfolk’s roster includes Chance Sisco and Francisco Peña. Stuart Levy, who’s also impressed Showalter, is at Single-A Frederick.

Outfielders Cedric Mullins and DJ Stewart also are part of Bowie’s roster. Mullins is making the jump from low Single-A Delmarva, and it’s already been a soft landing.

Mullins led off last night’s game with a home run and had four hits and two RBIs in five at-bats, including a triple. He scored four runs. This kid is legit.

Sean Coyle was bumped to Bowie. There’s no room in Norfolk’s infield.

I wrote last night that the Orioles released outfielder-turned-pitcher Dariel Álvarez to create room for left-hander Andrew Faulkner on the 40-man roster. They are hoping to re-sign him to a minor league deal. Don’t assume that the book on Álvarez has closed.

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