TORONTO - Orioles manager Buck Showalter once again left Chris Davis out of the starting lineup tonight as the Orioles face Toronto lefty J.A. Happ. Davis is batting .152/.232/.232 with four doubles, four homers and 15 RBIs.
While he is batting just .174 (4-for-23) against Happ for his career, Davis obviously isn’t hitting anyone right now. His last homer was May 9, and in that 22-game stretch since then, he has just two RBIs.
Davis right now is just showing no signs or progress of any kind. Does it leave Showalter with not many places to turn to help him at this point?
“That’s fair to say,” he said. “What do you do, quit? We push every day and Chris pushes every day to keep trying to find a solution to the challenges he’s had. No one has to remind us it’s been tough sledding for him for a while. It’s very frustrating. Because we’ve all seen what he’s capable of, but he hasn’t been able to do that for an extended period of time.”
With his slugging percentage down to .232 on the year, Davis’ OPS has declined each month - from .599 in April to .453 in May and .269 in June.
Does this mean Showalter may consider sitting Davis more often, or is that a game-by-game decision?
“That is one in the same, isn’t it?” Showalter said. “You know, you have thoughts that he has a good game and maybe that is going to be the start of an extended period of that. You try to go for it. And you’re always trying to put your best forward and sometimes him struggling the way it is, it isn’t necessarily with him in the lineup. So it’s been a tough thing to massage.
“But you still hope that he’ll catch fire. Someone may say, ‘What gives you that hope?’ I think because Chris hasn’t quit pushing or quit trying. He’s tried everything and he’ll continue to try to find it.”
At least in the short term, for this series, Showalter hopes a day off will help Davis somehow.
“I hope so,” he said. “We’ve tried it multiple times. Nothing can take the place of a good Chris Davis and what he is capable of doing. We’ve missed that in our lineup. We’ve had other people struggling. You know our catcher position hasn’t been much of an offensive position. Chris isn’t the only one.”
On another topic, the Orioles have changed their original plan with pitcher Zach Britton. He was scheduled to pitch back-to-back days for Triple-A Norfolk on Sunday and Monday and maybe be activated as soon as next Wednesday. But after his strong seven-pitch outing on Thursday afternoon for the Tides, Britton will pitch tonight for Norfolk, completing the back-to-back portion of his rehab assignment.
Britton, who has thrown 4 1/3 scoreless innings in four games for three affiliates, could rejoin the Orioles as soon as Monday at Camden Yards.
The Orioles are expected to activate Darren O’Day from the disabled list here for Saturday’s game. So over the next few days, they’ll get both Britton and O’Day back.
“It is a perfect time to do this (back-to-back games), talking to him,” Showalter said. “That is a deviation from the schedule. So that will put him to either be activated for us on Monday or to pitch another time for Frederick (Monday). So after he gets through with this outing (tonight), he’ll probably come back to Baltimore. We’ll have to make a (roster) move for Darren, after the game tonight or tomorrow morning.
“He’s had a game where he pitched and went back out for the second inning. He’s had a two-inning outing with a sim game. So the back-to-back was the last hurdle we wanted to cross. He feels great. He said today it felt like he didn’t even pitch yesterday. He’s in good shape, physically. It’s just a baseball decision now. He’s done a lot of work. It’s been impressive to watch the way he and the trainers and doctors went about this. I still think our pitching staff, when we get everyone together, will be a strength.”
Showalter commented again today on the rookie battery of pitcher David Hess and catcher Austin Wynns playing so well last night. Seeing two homegrown Orioles do that has to provide a bit of a lift to the Orioles’ minor league and player development staff and players.
“Our players in the minor leagues have known we will always look there first,” Showalter said. “We’ve had some good things happen down below. I’m encouraged. We’ve got a lot of players - it’s not if, it’s kind of when. To see young guys come up and contribute should be encouraging to the fans and the players down below. They’ve played with those guys and I’m sure they say, ‘If they can do it, I can do it, too.’ “
Hunter Harvey dealing with shoulder issue: Double-A Bowie right-hander Hunter Harvey was scratched was his scheduled start tonight because he is dealing with “posterior shoulder instability,” a club official confirmed tonight.
In his last Baysox start, Harvey gave up six runs and five hits over two innings. That raised his ERA from 4.15 to 5.57 after nine starts. Rated as the Orioles No. 4 prospect by Baseball America, Harvey had Tommy John surgery in July of 2016. It is not yet known the full extent of this injury or how long he will be out.
BaltimoreBaseball.com first report the Harvey injury news.
Tied at 1-1: The Orioles and Blue Jays went to the third tied 1-1 after each team scored in the second. Danny Valencia led off the inning with a walk for the Orioles, went to second on another base on balls and scored on a throwing error by second baseman Devon Travis. Russell Martin’s solo shot in the home second tied it at 1-1 as Martin hit No. 6.
O’s trail: Randal Grichuk hit a leadoff homer in the fifth off Andrew Cashner as the Orioles fell behind 2-1 in the game. Cashner had not allowed a homer in his past three starts, but is now behind tonight via two longballs.