Orioles first baseman Chris Davis, who led the major leagues in home runs and RBIs last season, left Friday night's game against the Kansas City Royals with what team officials described as a left oblique strain.
That could be very bad news for the club, since significant oblique injuries can require up to eight weeks to fully heal, but manager Buck Showalter said after the game that it was too soon to judge the severity of the injury.
"They all do (concern you)," Showalter said, "but until we can judge what stage it is, it's a little premature. Chris is a well-conditioned, tough guy who can play through some things so we'll take the proper precautions and see the next couple of days. Obviously he's worth waiting on."
Davis looked uncomfortable after his second at-bat against Royals pitcher Yordano Ventura and was replaced at first base by utility infielder Ryan Flaherty, who moved there from third base in an infield shuffle that also sent rookie Jonathan Schoop from second to third and brought Steve Lombardozzi into the game to play second and bat in Davis' spot in the order. The injury also figures to cause at least a short-term roster shuffle, since it's highly unlikely Davis will play again this weekend.
Showalter said that Davis did not ask out of the game, but he wasn't taking any chances with the team's 2013 MVP. Davis said that he couldn't pinpoint when he started feeling the discomfort, but the soreness reached a point in that second at-bat where it needed to be addressed.
"It's kind of been a few days,'' he said. "I think this time of the year, it's early, it's cold outside, the wather is not the most ideal. You're going to have aches and pains. Tonight, when I started swinging, I felt pretty good in the cage before the game and a couple of swings off Ventura just didn't feel good. At that point, Buck took it out of my hands and it's something that's we're going to keep an eye on and hopefully not let it get too bad right now. It's too early for that."
The severity of the injury is not known, but it has to be worrisome for a team that has seen veteran shortstop J.J. Hardy miss games with both back spasms and a hamstring strain. Oblique injuries are tricky and unpredictable, which means there is a good chance that Davis could go on the disabled list to make sure he gives himself sufficient time to completely recover.
Last season, pitcher Wei-Yin Chen was on the disabled list from May 15 until July 10 with a strain of the right oblique, but the injury generally is more debilitating for pitchers than position players.
The injury is believed to occur more frequently among position players with power swings, and Davis certainly fits that description, though it is not known if he suffered the strain on a swing or on a defensive play. He had complained during the road trip of some hip soreness, but could not say whether it was related to the oblique injury.
It is unlikely that the team will have anything definitive to say after tonight's game, since it may take some time to determine the extent of the strain.
Davis said he doesn't think it is something that will put him on the shelf for an extended period, but admitted that he has no experience with this kind of injury.
"No, we'll know more about it tomorrow,'' he said, "but I don't think (so)...I've never had an oblique strain or whatever you want to call it, but it doesn't feel so bad right now that I can't move or anything like that. So, I think right now we'll take it one game at a time."