BALTIMORE -- Relegated back to a reserve role recently, it sounds as if things are going to stay that way for Chris Davis. Orioles manager Brandon Hyde indicated playing time will continue to be limited going forward for Davis, who did not start Thursday for the fourth consecutive game.
Hyde said he’s going to “continue to pick my spots” with the struggling first baseman, who is now nearing the conclusion of his third consecutive trying season. Davis is hitting .179 with a .582 OPS and 121 strikeouts in 90 games. He’s started just five of 14 games since his dugout altercation with Hyde on Aug. 7.
“There are some people we want to see, at-bats we want to give guys,” Hyde said. “We’ve had conversations about it. I don’t think he’s swung the bat this year the way he’s wanted to. There are some adjustments he needs to make and he’s aware of that. The bottom line is, we’re going to continue to give some of our younger players opportunities, especially this time of year.”
That figures to become more pertinent in September, regardless of whether or not the calculus includes top first-base prospect Ryan Mountcastle. The O's are preparing for Mark Trumbo to test his surgically repaired right knee in a rehab assignment next week, with the possibility he rejoins the club when rosters expand.
Left fielder Dwight Smith Jr. has recovered from a left calf strain and is even more likely to be back with the big league club at some point, after the Orioles reinstated him from his rehab assignment and optioned him to Triple-A Norfolk on Wednesday.
In the meantime, Trey Mancini has slid to first base the past four games in Davis’ place, allowing the O's to give consistent reps to Anthony Santander and DJ Stewart at the corner outfield spots.
Approached at his locker Thursday afternoon, Davis declined comment. Davis remains signed through 2022 on a seven-year, $161 million contract that ties him to Baltimore’s payroll via deferred money through '37.
“We’ve had a lot of discussions with him about his offseason and things we want to see from him,” Hyde said. “He’s been a pro the entire way -- 100% pro. He understands. He’s been in the dugout supporting our guys. He’s been real great in the clubhouse and he’s handled this situation really well.”
From the trainer's room
A day after suffering a minor injury to his left hand, rookie shortstop Richie Martin was an early scratch from the Orioles' lineup on Thursday. Hyde said Martin’s left hand was sore after sliding into first base during Wednesday’s 8-1 win over the Royals. Martin remained in the game, finishing 2-for-2. He was replaced Thursday by Jace Peterson at second base, with Jonathan Villar sliding over to short.
“We’re just keeping him out as a precaution,” Hyde said. “I’m not a big fan [of the first-base slide], because I’ve seen so many hand injuries. It’s obviously an instinctual play. Studies show you won't get there any faster. I’m guilty of it also, back when I could still run OK. You’re just trying to get there so bad that it’s a little natural to do that, but I’d prefer guys not to.”