Something has gone awry when a team’s highest-paid player being in its starting lineup counts as a real news story. So it goes for the Orioles and Chris Davis. The exile is over, at least for now. Davis, who has not played since June 11, is back in the lineup on Friday night against the Braves.
Before this extended benching, one phrase manager Buck Showalter used to describe the situation was that the O’s were “pretty deep in the barrel” and that nothing up to that point had worked. Is a week-plus of apparent swing doctoring with hitting coach Scott Coolbaugh and/or front office quasi-heir Brady Anderson going to be what does the trick to pull Davis out from the doldrums of a .150/.227/.227 batting line?
It’s hard to be as bad as that and harder still to be worse. Yet Davis has just a .295 OPS over the last 28 days. He hasn’t homered since May 9 or had an extra base hit since May 18. If this is not the answer to his problems, the uncomfortable question will be that much closer to the point where the O’s must confront it.
After shelving him so long, it’s a little strange that the O’s are throwing Davis back in there against Braves lefty Sean Newcomb. But actually, Davis is somehow hitting slightly better against lefties than righties this season - not that he’s hitting either side well - and Newcomb in a small sample size is better against righties than lefties this season. Perhaps these things will work in Davis’s favor as he gets back into the saddle.
The O’s line up like this behind Alex Cobb on Friday night:
- Craig Gentry - LF
- Adam Jones - CF
- Manny Machado - SS
- Mark Trumbo - RF
- Danny Valencia - 3B
- Jonathan Schoop - 2B
- Chris Davis - 1B
- Caleb Joseph - C
- Alex Cobb - P
Trey Mancini is on the bench for a second consecutive day. Showalter indicated to Orioles reporters following Thursday’s game that Mancini was out due to a neck problem and that he hoped Mancini could play today. It seems that he cannot. If that drags on, the corresponding roster move for when Tim Beckham is activated may have presented itself - though I hope Mancini gets well soon.