This, that and the other

Orioles manager Buck Showalter didn’t wait until the Orioles faced a left-hander to sit first baseman Chris Davis. It happened last night with the Athletics starting Chris Smith.

Davis is batting .212/.311/.427 in 85 games, with nine doubles, 18 home runs, 41 RBIs and 128 strikeouts in 302 at-bats. He’s 4-for-33 with one home run and 11 strikeouts this month.

Davis actually is batting .228 against left-handers this season and .204 against right-handers.

Chris-Davis-gray-close.pngThe A’s are starting right-hander Paul Blackburn tonight. The former Cubs first-round pick is holding left-handers to a .200 average in seven starts.

Showalter indicated to reporters in Oakland that Davis could sit again tonight. We’ll see.

Meanwhile, the Orioles are 1 1/2 games behind for the second wild card.

Adam Jones was lowered from first to fourth in the order and had a double and home run. Tim Beckham moved up to the leadoff spot for the first time as an Oriole and had a double and triple.

It turns out that asking Showalter last week about Beckham being a candidate to bat first wasn’t such a crazy subject.

* A quick tour of the Orioles’ clubhouse following the non-waiver trade deadline provided a reminder that guys wanted the team to remain intact. They weren’t buying the notion that the front office should be selling.

With top relievers Zach Britton and Brad Brach drawing significant interest, bullpen coach Alan Mills could only go about his daily business and hope the unit stayed together.

“Absolutely,” he said. “I was really overjoyed that no one got traded. There are a lot of guys out there who can come in and get the final three outs of the game.”

Mills was given the obvious roll call of Britton, Brach, Mychal Givens and Darren O’Day, but he had more names to rattle off.

“You’ve named the four and you can add a few more guys to that list,” he said. “(Richard) Bleier. (Miguel) Castro has done it in Toronto, I think it was. So, it’s a very talented group of guys.

“I didn’t want to see anybody leave, but if that happens, and it still can happen, you just kind of move on and piece together what you have and go forward. But I’m glad the bullpen stayed intact.”

I asked Mills whether he liked Castro, who has a 2.83 ERA in 24 appearances..

“I like them all,” he said, smiling. “I really do. I like them all. They all fit in really well.”

* The Orioles most recently used Triple-A Norfolk left-hander Chris Lee to piggyback off Mike Wright’s start Sunday afternoon against Durham and on Aug. 1 in Gwinnett, but don’t assume that he’s now working in a relief role.

That could come later.

Wright is easing back into a starter’s workload after coming off the disabled list. He was housed in the bullpen with the Orioles before his shoulder injury. Can’t expect the guy to hop back on the mound and throw 100 pitches.

Wright was restricted to 59 over 3 1/3 innings in Gwinnett before Lee replaced him and allowed one unearned run in 3 2/3 innings to earn the win. Wright threw 73 pitches in 4 2/3 scoreless innings on Sunday and Lee allowed only one run 4 1/3, but he was tagged with the loss.

Lee lowered his ERA to 5.55 in 99 innings. It was 6.35 back on June 25.

The Tides had the same arrangement in Wright’s previous start. The right-hander tossed three scoreless and hitless innings, walking one and striking out six before Lee took over and allowed one unearned run and one hit in four innings.

The Orioles were hoping that Lee, limited to eight appearances at Double-A Bowie last summer due to a lat injury, would kick down the door to the majors this season as one of their better pitching prospects. However, he’s fallen way short of those expectations, and he eventually could become a reliever on a regular basis.

A lot depends on how Lee develops his secondary pitches, and whether he can physically get himself consistently into the later innings. It’s all part of the evaluation process.

Always try to develop starters first. The Orioles will continue to view Lee as one, but they’re also willing to call an audible.

* Mark Hendrickson won’t get the bulk of the attention at short-season Single-A Aberdeen, since the roster is stocked with draft picks and Hall of Famer Cal Ripken Jr.’s son. However, it’s pretty hard to ignore a guy who’s 6 foot 9, whether or not he’s also in his first season as a pitching coach.

The early reviews on Hendrickson were quite favorable.

“Mark Hendrickson, I’ll tell you, you talk about someone the job really agrees with,” Showalter said. “I wish you guys could read his stuff (reports) after games. You can tell he’s having a blast. He’s having a lot of fun. He’s going to do a really good job there. He’s going to move quickly. He’s impressive.

“He’s having the time of his life coaching those kids there. You can tell. He was the same way at extended spring training. You take a guy with, what did he have, 10 years in the big leagues? And to go down to extended spring and have that zest? The kids feed off it. They do.

“I was watching Hannifee’s outing on the side and they panned back and forth between pitches. Mark’s in there and you can tell he’s talking to everybody. He’s going up and down the dugout. He’s engaged. It’s great to see.”

Hendrickson announced his retirement in the spring of 2015 after another attempted comeback. Showalter floated the idea of Hendrickson staying in the organization in some capacity, but the York, Pa. resident wasn’t quite ready.

The transition from pitcher to coach isn’t always seamless.

“When he called me about getting back in the game, I said, ‘Mark, are you sure? You know what you’re getting into? You sure you want to do this? I don’t want you to get into it and not ...’ And he said, ‘No, I’m ready,’” Showalter recalled.

“We’re lucky to have him.”

Showalter also is the one who convinced Hendrickson to lower his arm slot and begin throwing from the side, which first got him back in the organization.

As for Ryan Ripken, he was batting .260/.299/.336 with five doubles, two home runs and 17 RBIs in 39 games with the IronBirds.

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