By Dan Connolly
9:02 PM EDT, August 7, 2012
Admittedly, Chris Davis is not really a fan of being a designated hitter. But he is a fan of playing regularly.
And now that Jim Thome is on the shelf for roughly a month, Davis is back at DH, and he's getting used to it. In the 10 games that Thome has been out, Davis has started nine at DH. He's had nine hits in 33 at-bats (.273 average) during that span, heading into Tuesday.
"I have figured it out, because I know I didn't have another choice," said Davis, who has started 29 games at DH, 38 at first base, 11 in left field and 15 in right this season. He's also pitched once. "I have done a lot of things that have been asked of me, never really griped about it. I've just understood it's my job as a teammate to go out there and do the best I can and try to figure it out. I'm not in the position where I can say I don't want to do this or I don't want to do that. And I don't think if I ever was in that position I would do that."
The 26-year-old Davis, however, sees himself as a first baseman, now and in the future. He says he feels more comfortable there and that allows him to concentrate as much on his offense. When put in the outfield this year, mainly due to injuries to Nolan Reimold, Endy Chavez and Nick Markakis, Davis said his focus was primarily on learning those positions.
"Obviously, when I am out there, I am committing a lot of my time to defensive alignments and learning the outfield and learning the other lineups," Davis said. "It is just a comfort thing. It may have been one of those things that I learned how to play the outfield in two games and felt comfortable to where I could concentrate on hitting more, but it hasn't been that way so far."
The numbers support his theory. Heading into Tuesday, Davis has hit .312 with six homers and 16 RBIs in 138 at-bats while playing first base; .275 with seven homers and 22 RBIs in 109 at-bats as a DH and .184 with five homers and 17 RBIs in 98 at-bats as an outfielder.
"There's no hidden doors or traps," Davis said of first base. "I know how to play there."
Orioles manager Buck Showalter said part of being a consistent big leaguer is separating the offensive and defensive parts of a game. Therefore, he doesn't put much stock into how a defensive position correlates to the offensive game.
"I think each player's different. I find it hard to believe that if this guy plays this position, he's not going to get any hits, but if he plays this position he's going to get hits," Showalter said. "That wouldn't be an excuse I'd want to listen to. You've got to separate the game. It's kind of what the club needs, how it fits."
Davis, who believes he is a much better defensive first baseman than he has shown this season, said he understands that right now he is needed most at DH, especially with Thome shelved and Mark Reynolds looking good at first recently.
"This team is playing well and I am going to do everything I can to help this team get in the playoffs," Davis said. "I think that's been evident all season."
Millwood returns Camden Yards mound
It took a while, and it certainly wasn't a direct path, but Seattle Mariners right-hander Kevin Millwood will pitch at Camden Yards on Wednesday for the first time since he was an Oriole in 2010.
Millwood, who was the club's Opening Day starter that season and went 4-16 with a 5.10 ERA in 31 starts for the Orioles, toiled in the minors for much of last year before finding a job with the Colorado Rockies.
The 37-year-old latched on with the Mariners this spring and has had a solid season, going 4-9 with a 4.01 ERA in 21 starts.
"Yeah, it seems like it has been a long time," Millwood said of returning to Baltimore. "It's been a weird ride, but it's been pretty fun, too. So I can't complain too much."
Millwood still has plenty of friends on the Orioles — including several he played with in Texas. He doled out a number of pre-game hugs on the field this series.
"Facing my ex-teammates and friends, that's the weird part about it," Millwood said. "Being in the ballpark, I pitched here plenty of times before I played here, so that's not a big deal. But all those guys I know over there, Buck and [Orioles pitching coach] Rick Adair, I know those guys well so that does make it a little strange."
Showalter will miss Smith
Showalter worked closely with Janet Marie Smith during the past two-plus years, and the manager said he'll miss the club's vice president of planning and development, who took a similar job Monday with the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Smith has been credited with helping improve ballpark amenities at Camden Yards this year as part of its 20th anniversary as well as the renovations of the Ed Smith complex in Sarasota, Fla.
"She helped [with] a lot of things that have helped change some things we needed to upgrade, not only physically but what it impacts from the mental and emotional standpoint in the organization," Showalter said. "We had been such [a] vagabond with spring training, and to finally get our roots down in a city that we hope to be there forever [was important]. And here at Camden, to help keep it one of the best facilities in baseball, it doesn't happen by accident and it's not cheap."
Around the horn
The Orioles had no official word on outfielder Endy Chavez, who was designated for assignment on Saturday, but Showalter said there is a possibility Chavez could accept an assignment to Triple-A Norfolk if he clears waivers. … Thome (herniated disk) likely will go home to Illinois for a while before rejoining the club. … The Orioles are still deciding whether right-hander Jason Hammel will rehab with the team or in Sarasota, but he plans on coming to Baltimore during this homestand. … The Orioles will host Kansas City for four games this week, but will not have to face former Oriole Jeremy Guthrie, whose rotation spot does not come up while he is at Camden Yards.
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