This, that and the other

The growing possibility that Chris Davis begins the season in the injured list, whatever its length, removes the misguided argument that he’s blocking a prospect.

Davis hasn’t done it. Prospects aren’t kept at Triple-A or the alternate camp because he’s in the organization.

Ryan Mountcastle wasn’t making the club on opening day 2020. Yusniel Diaz isn’t making it next month.

(Mountcastle is 2-for-19 with a double, home run, five RBIs, no walks and four strikeouts. Don’t panic.)

A four-man bench needs a backup catcher and an extra outfielder. Losing Davis to a strained lower back could allow the Orioles to carry two utility players.

Phone the neighbors and wake up the kids.

Manager Brandon Hyde keeps stressing the importance of having versatile players, probably because he keeps getting asked about it. He’d be quite comfortable with Pat Valaika and Ramón Urías. He also has Stevie Wilkerson in camp, along with memories of the non-roster invite covering pretty much every position in 2019.

Wilkerson needs to convince the Orioles that he can be at least an adequate shortstop. He’s made 39 starts at the position in the minors and seven in the Arizona Fall League, but is viewed as stronger at other infield spots.

The outfield probably can do without him, but he’s a nice bullpen arm in emergencies.

This is the impact of putting Davis on the injured list. The Orioles know what they want to do with their prospects. They know which ones need at-bats and defensive reps at a specific position in the high minors. And they won’t rush it.

If the Orioles want Jahmai Jones playing second base every day at Triple-A Norfolk after working out at the alternate camp site, they’re going to stay with the plan. Same goes for Tyler Nevin at first base and maybe third.

They won’t breathe a huge sigh of relief and shove a prospect on the opening day roster because Davis is unable to play - as if the former slugger is a hurdle that’s been cleared. As if the drain is unclogged. But they’ll gladly expand their versatility if given the chance.

* Jones is 2-for-14 with an RBI, three walks and four strikeouts. The speed and athleticism are evident. The statistics aren’t telling the whole story, but he understands how they create a bad impression.

“I think I’m having good ABs,” he said. “I’m putting together good ABs, swinging at strikes and trying to not do too much with them right now. Obviously, from an outside perspective, they’ll look at the numbers, but I don’t think the numbers reflect how I’m playing in camp. Definitely getting comfortable, definitely feeling good and just trying to get more consistent as camp goes on.

“From a defensive place, I feel like I’m playing good defense. Just continuing to get better and continue to do the little things and harp on those in my work and just letting everything goes how it goes.”

Ruiz-Throws-Gray-Sidebar.jpg* Rio Ruiz is back on the field today for a morning workout and could resurface in the lineup Sunday, eight days after his last appearance.

Ruiz has been dealing with an undisclosed illness. He’s also sitting on a 1-for-12 this spring that can’t be any more comfortable.

There isn’t an obvious successor to Ruiz at third base, with Rylan Bannon expected to be optioned to Norfolk. Bannon and utility candidates Valaika, Urías and Wilkerson have made starts at the corner.

“We do have a lot of guys that kind of play over there. We’re taking a look at a lot of them,” said Hyde, who pointed out that Yolmer Sánchez played “a full year at third base one year with the White Sox.”

“We do have some options at third base,” he said.

* News of the Orioles allowing fans inside Camden Yards at 25 percent capacity has been met with the anticipated level of enthusiasm.

John Means can have his wife, Caroline, and infant son, McCoy, in the stands.

“It will feel like a real season, a real baseball game, a real major league environment. I couldn’t be happier,” Means said.

“Last year was tough. It was tough to create that energy, but this year it will be easy and there’s no excuses.”

* Yesterday’s second round of cuts temporarily reduced the camp roster to 62 players, including outfielder Heston Kjerstad, who isn’t reporting to the complex.

Kjerstad is being sent directly to the alternate site in Bowie.

None of the cuts are earth-shattering. The five pitchers yesterday weren’t projected to make the club or a serious bid.

Evan Phillips had the best chance based on his experience, though he was a non-roster invite. Isaac Mattson, Zac Lowther, Michael Baumann and Alexander Wells were already pointed toward Norfolk after a stop at the secondary site.

I write “temporarily” because Gray Fenter’s return from the Cubs, who snatched him in the Rule 5 draft, inflates the total to 63.

Fenter was bound to come back, considering how he hadn’t pitched above the low Single-A level and rosters are capped at 26 players instead of 30.

The Cubs used him once this spring and he tossed a scoreless inning with one walk. The Orioles are thrilled to get him back in the organization, justifying their decision to leave him unprotected, and could assign him to high Single-A Aberdeen or be bold and place him at Double-A Bowie.

Now what about reliever Zach Pop?

That candle’s still burning in the window.

The Diamondbacks selected Pop in the Rule 5 and traded him to the Marlins. He’s healthy again after Tommy John surgery two years ago, but Miami has been extremely careful with him.

In one outing, Pop tossed a scoreless inning with a walk and strikeout. They could stash him for a while on the injured list, but my guess is he also is returned to the Orioles.

Of course, players must first pass through waivers before the offer is made.

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