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Orioles notes: Chris Davis at leadoff on Opening Day 'a new toy' in hopes of jump-starting slugger

Jon Meoli
Contact ReporterThe Baltimore Sun

Buck Showalter did it.

First baseman Chris Davis batted leadoff in the Orioles' Opening Day lineup Thursday, the execution of a plan the manager floated for several weeks during spring training and ultimately decided was best for the team to start the season.

The hope is that Davis will get away from his pull-heavy approach and use the whole field in his new table-setting role, with the assignment about more than bunting against the infield shift. It's about getting the most out of the team's highest-paid player after a down season last year. He went 0-for-4 with a walk and a strikeout in Thursday’s win over the Minnesota Twins.

"It's something that everybody felt like was a good way to start," Showalter said. "Chris is a very important part of our club, potentially, and I hope this kind of helps us. Sometimes, you've got to give a new toy, something that signifies a new start. We'll see."

Showalter said he didn't ultimately like what he saw from left fielder Trey Mancini in the leadoff spot during the spring, and Davis' personal wish to move to the top of the lineup won out.

"Anytime a player embraces something, as much his idea as somebody else's, those usually get a good return," Showalter said. "But we'll see. We'll see where it takes us. The journey of a season will kind of take us where it goes. You can always say, if not him then who? You can always come up with a who."

Four pitchers designated for assignment

In finalizing their Opening Day roster, the Orioles added four players to their roster — infielders Pedro Álvarez and Danny Valencia, plus outfielders Craig Gentry and Colby Rasmus — and removed four pitchers to make room.

The Orioles designated right-handers Alec Asher, Jesus Liranzo, Stefan Crichton and Michael Kelly for assignment. With each player, they have seven days to place them on waivers or try to work out a trade. If they clear waivers, they can be outrighted to the minors.

"Our hope is that they clear and put them back in the system," Showalter said. "We still like them. If not them, then who? I know there was a lot of discussion, back and forth. ... It's more about who we had to add. We feel like we took the best team that we could, you know — short-term and long-term — and with that comes a price."

Liranzo, with a mid-90s fastball but control problems, had a 4.85 ERA in a hybrid role at Double-A Bowie last year. Asher and Crichton each had major league time last season, with Asher briefly in the Orioles rotation last summer, but both fell out of favor. Kelly was signed to a major league deal as a six-year free agent from the San Diego Padres system at the winter meetings in December.

Around the horn

Showalter said Rasmus, the presumptive everyday right fielder, was relegated to the bench Thursday because of his track record against Twins starter Jake Odorizzi. ... The Orioles have a plan mapped out for when Mark Trumbo will return from the 10-day disabled list, barring no setbacks with his quadriceps injury. Right-hander Gabriel Ynoa (shin) was also placed on the disabled list, with right-hander Alex Cobb optioned to Bowie. Because minor league seasons haven't begun, he'll get his next start in Sarasota, Fla.

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