In his pregame news conference Monday, Orioles manager Buck Showalter said the reason Chris Davis is sitting against Chicago White Sox left-hander Chris Sale is not because Davis’ average has dipped to .216 or that his slugger is mired in a 7-for-64 skid (.130).
It’s primarily because, Showalter said, he wanted to get right-handed hitter Delmon Young into the lineup. Young had made just four starts in June, the last coming June 15. He had just one at-bat during the past road trip, a pinch-hit homer Monday at Tampa Bay.
“About 90 percent of it is Delmon Young. Need to get Delmon in ballgames,” Showalter said. “I’m not going to let him sit around and not play. It’s been a challenge for him, us getting him enough at-bats to stay sharp. He’s gotten some big hits for us this year. So we’ll continue to keep everybody in the flow.”
Young is 2-for-9 against Sale in his career with a homer and a double. Davis, a left-handed hitter, is 0-for-1. Steve Pearce, a right-handed hitter, has never faced Sale.
When asked about Davis’ offensive troubles, Showalter said the first baseman is “close” to returning to form.
“Sometimes it makes you appreciate the level of which he has performed at times this year,” Showalter said. “[Davis] has had some real contributions [37 RBIs]. … I have a lot confidence that it will pick up as the season goes. He’s been pretty solid for us at first base for the most part. And has played the game with a lot of effort and energy. So it makes it a lot easier to trust.”
Showalter said Davis will play Tuesday against Chicago left-hander Jose Quintana.
In other news, Showalter said he still expects Bud Norris (strained right groin) to make his scheduled start Friday night.
“If not, it will be Saturday, if not it will be Sunday, if not it will be Monday. Because of the off day and the potential of Kevin [Gausman] coming back, we have a lot of options to push him back if so needed,” Showalter said. “But we feel like he has got a chance to make Friday and not be in harm’s way. If that’s not the case, then we’ll push him back. It’s not going to be a case of something where we’re going to ask him to wrap it up and go try to get through it. We have other options. We have spent a lot of time trying to make sure those options are in place.”
* Right-hander Kevin Gausman started and threw one inning for Triple-A Norfolk on Monday afternoon as a way to get in some work before his Orioles start Friday. He allowed three hits and two runs -- on a homer by former Orioles outfielder Chris Dickerson that also scored former Orioles infielder Robert Andino -- while throwing 23 pitches (14 for strikes).
The Orioles weren’t concerned. The last time he pitched a one-inning minor league tune-up, he allowed three runs in one inning June 4 and then dominated the Oakland Athletics on June 7.
“We are right on schedule with the last time he pitched that one inning. So we got that going on again, that’s the new way,” Showalter joked.
* Right-hander Dylan Bundy is expected to pitch Friday for short-season Single-A Aberdeen and if that goes well, he could be moved to Double-A Bowie, according to executive vice president Dan Duquette. Bundy (right elbow surgery last June) has made two rehab starts for Aberdeen.
* Right-hander Suk-min Yoon, who was placed on the minor league disabled list Monday, is dealing with a shoulder impingement and will have at least one start skipped at Norfolk before being re-evaluated, Duquette said. Yoon is 3-7 with a 5.76 ERA in 15 starts.
* Duquette said the Orioles are not shopping for a catcher to replace the injured Matt Wieters. He said he likes the tandem they currently have with Caleb Joseph and Nick Hundley.
* Veteran left-hander Randy Wolf will join Norfolk in Pawtucket on Tuesday.
* Right-hander Edgmer Escalona has elected free agency in lieu of accepting his outright assignment to Norfolk, the club announced Monday.