While Chris Davis’ recovery from a balky throwing elbow has taken more time than the Orioles expected it would, manager Buck Showalter said Wednesday that it’s too soon to consider the first baseman a candidate to open the season on the disabled list.
“We’re not there yet,” Showalter said. “I still have confidence we can get this behind us and get enough at-bats to be ready. We’re not there yet. We could get there, but I’m hoping that doesn’t happen.”
Davis hasn’t played since March 2. He received a cortisone shot in the elbow over the weekend when he there was a lull in his improvement. Tuesday was scheduled to be his second straight day of free swinging.
He isn’t going on the Orioles’ two-game trip to Florida’s east coast to play the St. Louis Cardinals and New York Mets on Thursday and Friday — even though Showalter said Wednesday that most regulars will make the trip. So, the earliest he could return is over the weekend, but Showalter backed away from that before Wednesday’s game against the New York Yankees.
“I can’t make that decision now,” Showalter said. “He’s a little better today. He’s going to do some things he wasn’t able to do yesterday. We’ll see how he responds to it. I wouldn’t put a date on it yet. We’re not there on it.”
If Davis — who emphasized the importance of getting as many spring at-bats as he could as he attempts to rebound from a down year in 2017 — doesn’t return this weekend, it would give him a maximum of seven more Grapefruit League games, not including the exhibition at Triple-A Norfolk on the team’s way back to Baltimore.
So, even though it might not be a consideration yet, it won’t be long until the Orioles must decide whether Davis can get enough time to get ready for the regular season or need to stay back to get the necessary preparation time. Davis is 2-for-13 this spring, playing in just five games. He’s averaged 18 Grapefruit League games and 51 at-bats over his previous six springs with the Orioles.
Mancini gets leadoff look
Showalter’s effort to get looks at different players in the leadoff spot led to Trey Mancini’s first start atop the batting order in Wednesday’s Grapefruit League game against the New York Yankees.
Among potential regulars, Tim Beckham and Colby Rasmus have gotten the most starts in the leadoff spot, both making four there this spring. Craig Gentry, Davis and Austin Hays also saw time in the leadoff spot, but the latter two instances were more likely an effort to get those players more at-bats.
“It’s just another look,” Showalter said. “It’s three of our better hitters hitting 1-2-3, and is it Jon [Schoop], is it Manny [Machado] or Adam [Jones]? You can see any of those. We just don’t have that conventional [way] of the way baseball used to look at leadoff hitters.”
Mancini has mostly hit in the No. 2 spot in the order this spring, and he’s been productive. He entered Wednesday having hit three homers with eight RBIs in 33 Grapefruit League at-bats while showing more patience at the plate. His five walks through 12 games this spring were already more than the four he drew in 30 games last spring. He also cut back on his strikeouts, leading to a .342 spring on-base percentage.
“How many really true leadoff hitters — the way we used to look at the position — [are still out there],” Showalter said. “A lot of the analytics will tell you to quit looking for that guy. … The on-base percentage is big, but analytically it’s not a point of emphasis with a lot of front offices today.”
Orioles reassign Aquino
The Orioles made one cut before Wednesday’s game, reassigning left-hander Jayson Aquino to minor league camp to trim the big league camp roster to 44 players.
Aquino, 25, made three Grapefruit League appearances, including one start, allowing three runs (two earned) over five innings. He also had seven strikeouts and two walks.
He has been a member of the Orioles organization since April 2016 — making seven major league appearances over that stretch — and re-signed with the team this offseason as a minor league free agent.
He will likely slot into the rotation at Triple-A Norfolk, where he was 3-10 with a 4.24 ERA in 21 starts last year.
Turn up the noise
Before the Orioles’ Grapefruit League game against the Yankees, Showalter ran a defensive drill in which players had to call fly balls with the high-decibel sound playing from Delmon Young’s game-winning hit at Camden Yards during the 2014 American League Division Series. It’s a drill done every spring, and in previous years, the team has received complaints from neighbors about the noise, but there’s really no other way to simulate a loud regular-season crowd during spring training.
“I think our volume level was a little lower this year,” Showalter said. “I haven’t heard an alarm go off and I haven’t had one complaint yet. So I think we skated. Usually [after BP], we hear from somebody.”
Around the horn
Mark Trumbo returned to the lineup Wednesday as the Orioles’ starting designated hitter, his first Grapefruit League action since March 6 after being sidelined with a quad injury. … Right-hander Gabriel Ynoa, currently out with a stress reaction in his right shin, was scheduled to do some work out of his boot for the first time, said Showalter, who hoped the pitcher could return at some point next week. … The Orioles signed left-hander Hunter Cervenka to a minor league deal Tuesday. Cervenka, who was released by the Miami Marlins last week, owns a 4.69 career major league ERA in 73 games — all in relief — with the Atlanta Braves and Marlins. He allowed eight runs in 4 2/3 innings last season with Miami.