Orioles first baseman Chris Davis played in his first minor league rehabilitation assignment at Double-A Bowie on Saturday night, and could be activated as soon as Sunday, the first day he is eligible to come off the disabled list.
Davis played nine innings at first base at Prince George's Stadium, going 1-for-4 with a single and two strikeouts. If he wakes up on Sunday feeling fine, there certainly will be the temptation to put him right back in the major league lineup for the series finale against the Houston Astros, but that decision will not be automatic.
Orioles bench coach John Russell, filling in for manager Buck Showalter — who was returning from his son’s college graduation ceremony — said he didn’t believe Davis necessarily needed to play defense in order to be activated from the disabled list.
At the same time, the club realizes how finicky oblique injuries can be. One bad swing can lead to a setback.
“It’s going to be up to Chris and Buck and how [head athletic trainer] Richie [Bancells] looks at him ... and also [Bowie manager] Gary [Kendall], if he saw anything,” Russell said. “Obviously, we’ll have people there watching him.”
Showalter met with Davis late Saturday night, but confirmed that no decision would be made until everyone gets back to the ballpark Sunday morning.
“We’re not going to make that decision tonight,’’ he said.
Davis told Mid-Atlantic Sports Network reporter Steve Melewski after the game in Bowie that he feels he is ready to go.
Meanwhile, Steve Pearce is hitting .303/.343/.636 with three homers and six RBIs in nine games as Davis’ replacement at first base.
“You can’t replace Chris Davis,” Russell said. “Steve Pearce would say that. Stevie has done a great job. He’s played great defense. He’s gotten some really big hits for us. That’s the type of player Steve Pearce is. That’s why we really wanted to get him back over the years. We got him back this year. We lost him. We got him back again. There’s so much value he brings to a club. He’s done a great job.
"But Chris Davis is Chris Davis," Russell continued. "He’s one of the backbones of our teams. He’s a middle-of-the-lineup bat for you. It’s always nice to have somebody step in and fill the void when somebody’s gone, but again, you can’t replace Chris Davis. … But I’m sure Steve Pearce would say the same thing. We need Chris Davis back in our lineup.”
Russell, who is also the team’s catchers coach, said he didn’t expect Matt Wieters to resume throwing in the next few days. Wieters is resting his throwing arm indefinitely as he recovers from a sore right elbow.
Wieters, who has seven multihit games and is batting .333/.347/.521 over his past 11 games, will be at DH for the third consecutive game.
The Orioles will try to extend their season-high four-game winning streak Saturday night.
Here are the starting lineups: