Chris Davis has a goofy, daily ritual when he walks by the magnetic lineup board outside of manager Buck Showalter’s office at Camden Yards.
The regular first baseman, who usually bats in the middle of the order, will put his name in the lineup at a random spot with a random position next to it.
“Whether it’s No. 9 or pitching, whether it’s the two-hole, playing first, sometimes I’ll play the outfield.” Davis said about his lineup game. “And [Wednesday] was the first day in three years that I actually put my name in the lineup and they just filled the lineup in around me. Hard work and determination does pay off.”
With third baseman and No. 2 hitter Manny Machado placed on the disabled list Wednesday with a sprained right knee ligament, Davis has been asked to fill the void — at least temporarily. On Wednesday, Davis started his 73rd career game at third base, and it was his first start batting second.
Davis was 2-for-5 in his career while hitting second heading into Wednesday — with all of the plate appearances coming as a reserve. That includes Monday, when he entered the game in the fourth inning for Machado and homered and singled in three at-bats.
“When Manny went out, a lot of the guys were saying, ‘There’s hits in the two-hole, there’s hits in the two-hole,’ “ Davis said. “I told Buck, I said, ‘Don’t be scared to put me in the two-hole. Apparently there’s hits there.’”
Showalter fired back: “Be careful what you ask for, young man.”
Because he has struggled most of the year to hit above .200 — he was batting .197 entering Wednesday night — Davis has been moved around the lineup this season, mainly between third and fifth, with two starts at seventh. Since he has moved in the lineup recently, Davis said it made sense to place him second and keep the rest of the order intact.
Davis said he doesn’t envision trying to suddenly become a traditional No. 2 hitter. Instead, he’ll just try to have good at-bats.
“I’ll probably have to bunt some more, maybe some hit and run, choke and poke,” joked Davis, who has 21 homers this season. “No, I don’t think so. The way we have been swinging the bats lately, we’ll just go out there and continue to do what we’ve been doing.
“Having solid at-bats, getting runners over, getting runners in. I think we’ve done a lot of really good things lately that don’t show up on the stat sheet … Those are the things that you have to do to be a playoff-caliber team.”
With shortstop J.J. Hardy also out because of injury, Showalter said his options for batting second were limited.
“It just fits better. We’ll see. It’s until where we get everybody back,” Showalter said. “Through thick and thin, [Davis] has taken his walks. He does present a challenge. Guys still have a lot of respect for Chris and what he can potentially do, and quite frankly, we’re always looking for some new niche that may jumpstart and get something going.”
Defensively, Davis said he feels comfortable enough playing third base, but it’s not something he has done consistently since playing 26 games at the hot corner in 2011.
“Obviously, it’s been a few years,” Davis said. “Played there the other night, didn’t have any balls hit to me. But I’m not going to try and replace Manny. He’s the best there is over there. My job is to make the routine plays and swing the bat.”