Showalter on Davis’ exclusion from lineup (O’s down 5-0)

BOSTON - The Orioles are closing out the Boston portion of their three-city road trip today without Chris Davis in the lineup.

Davis’ average is down to .166 with a .241 on-base percentage and .272 slugging percentage. He’s gone 2-for-24 with 12 strikeouts in his last six games.

The Red Sox are starting Eduardo Rodriguez, making it an easier call for manager Buck Showalter to sit Davis, who’s 5-for-36 against left-handers this season. Davis is 5-for-27 with 14 strikeouts against Rodriguez, the former Orioles pitching prospect.

“He’s fine physically,” said manager Buck Showalter. “I know you didn’t ask that, but he hasn’t had much success against Eduardo as much as anything. Craig (Gentry) has been playing against a lot of left-handed pitching, even though he really hasn’t done as well as he’s capable of. I wanted to get him playing. He hasn’t played in a while. So that’s part of it.

“Trey (Mancini) is still a little sore. I wanted to get him out of left field. It (knee) seems to bother him a little bit more out there. Chris had a tough night last night, quick turnaround. He will be available today.”

Davis Orange SIdebar.jpgDavis struck out four times last night and has fanned in six straight at-bats. He’s on pace to set the single-season record with 231. Mark Reynolds currently holds it with 223 in 2009 while playing for the Diamondbacks.

“If you knew all the things that went on every day from his perspective and the work and the things he’s trying to (do), I know he’s tried a few things and gotten a return on them. And then it doesn’t another day for a lot of reasons,” Showalter said.

“Everybody’s got a reason, but I know it bothers Chris and he’s trying, but it’s just not happening. I think he’s got a pretty firm grip on what he’s not doing, he’s trying to get there. Scott (Coolbaugh) knows him as well as anybody. He’s been his hitting coach when he had big years and will hopefully again.”

Showalter sat Davis on back-to-back days in Detroit against left-handers to close out April while the first baseman was batting .167. Showalter noted how he wanted to give Davis a “reset.”

Davis went 4-for-12 with three RBIs and three walks in his next four games, using the down time at his request to get in extra work with Coolbaugh, but his average is back down to .166.

“That was a different situation, but, yeah,” Showalter said. “Those (next) two or three days, I thought he had some good at bats. He faced some good pitching last night, OK? You face good pitching here, period, and it didn’t happen. He wasn’t the only one, but I certainly understand the questions about him.

“It’s been tough to get that consistent feel for him, so to speak. You get two or three days under his belt and you really like the at bats and you think he’s going to go on a good extended period. I still think that’s the case. We’re just not in that period right now.”

Davis continues to feel the pressure of living up to expectations that come with a $161 million contract.

“Yeah, I’m sure that’s part of it,” Showalter said. “I know that’s part of it. It’s something that Chris is trying to fight through.”

David Hess was recalled today to make his second major league start. He hasn’t pitched since earning the win in Game 1 of a May 12 doubleheader against the Rays.

“He had presented himself well,” Showalter said. “He kind of knew what was going on beforehand. I told him he’d get another opportunity because he pitched well and we just told him the truth, as we always try to do. It’s always good to be able to follow up on something you told them.

“Take away the first inning, he pitched real well. It’ll really be a challenge here. This is the best on paper hitting team in the league at their ballpark, so it’s a good test for him. I wish we could have brought him over to the park yesterday. Haven’t quite figured out those rules yet, but I’m sure there’s a good reason for them.”

Reliever Donnie Hart was optioned to Triple-A Norfolk to make room for Hess. The bullpen is down to two left-handers.

Hart’s been optioned for the second time this season. He’s allowed one earned run and six hits in 4 2/3 innings and hasn’t walked a batter.

Showalter has noticed the improvement in Hart after last year’s inconsistencies.

“Oh, yeah. That’s one of the things I told him today,” Showalter said.

“Donnie’s kind of back to being the guy he was before it kind of got away from him a little bit last year. He’s attacking, he’s throwing strikes, his tempo’s good, his changeup’s more of a pitch for him. This guy goes down and closes in Triple-A because of the changeup and command of his fastball and that’s something. You’re always looking for that guy that you’ve got left, right, left, you can leave him in there and keep the right-hander in the ballpark. He’s capable of doing that.

“That’s where he first caught my attention. He was in Double-A closing games, throwing 89 mph. There’s a reason why he’s (closing) in Triple-A, too, because of the changeup and the command.”

Update: Hess retired the side in order on nine pitches in the first inning, but J.D. Martinez homered to right field on the first pitch of the second inning to give the Red Sox a 1-0 lead.

Update II: Andrew Benintendi and Martinez have hit two-run homers in the fifth to give Boston a 5-0 lead.

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