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Chris Davis returns to Orioles; Kohl Stewart opts out of 2020 season

Chris Davis’s mysterious absence was a precaution due to a sinus infection. Also, Kohl Stewart, who’s diabetic, has chosen to opt out.

Baltimore Orioles v Boston Red Sox Photo by Adam Glanzman/Getty Images

After two days of Chris Davis being mysteriously absent from Camden Yards with the only comment from the team being that he was “unavailable,” he is back at the stadium on Friday night. Davis is still not in the starting lineup.

In an afternoon Zoom call with Orioles reporters, Davis said that he was battling a sinus infection which gave him enough mild symptoms to be cautious, given everything that has been going on with COVID-19 and baseball in the past few days. He said he’s had at least eight negative tests in that time. That is thorough.

It’s a strange time. With how opaque the Orioles have decided to be about player health, there wasn’t a lot of information available to prevent wild speculation from filling in the gaps. I’m glad they took the precaution of keeping him away and I’m glad that it has turned out to be something as run-of-the-mill as sinus trouble.

Davis is surely not the only person over the last five months to have some sinus issues, or other relatively mundane ailment, that might make them think, “What if I’ve got COVID-19?” Back in late March especially, every time my throat was a little scratchy was a brief source of anxiety.

On the other side of the COVID-19 coin, the Orioles announced on Friday afternoon that pitcher Kohl Stewart has chosen to opt out of the 2020 season. As Stewart phrased it in a statement released by the team, he’s “decided to pause (his) participation.”

Though he owes no one an explanation for this decision, he said that he made the choice he did because his Type 1 diabetes places him at “elevated risk of serious consequences.” He thanked the O’s organization, coaches, and teammates for their support.

Stewart, the former No. 4 overall pick who the Orioles signed over the offseason, probably won’t be the last player with a risky underlying condition who has seen what’s happened over the past few days and decided to get away from this mess. I don’t blame him. There’s a Type 1 diabetic in my family and they are one of the people I’m most worried about in my own life.

The immediate effect of this decision is that the Orioles have placed Stewart on the injured list, removing him from both the 40-man roster and 60-man player pool. Replacing him on the team for Friday night is Thomas Eshelman, whose contract was selected so he could join the team from the alternate training site.

Stewart had been a candidate to be a starter, though with the two-day pause and John Means’s return from the injured list, he didn’t actually get to make a start in the team’s first five games. Manager Brandon Hyde said that Sunday’s start will now go to Tommy Milone.