Orioles' Davis gets another shot at second
Showalter gives rookie the start just two days after he made key error in O's loss to Pirates
Orioles second baseman Blake Davis hits a second-inning triple. (Baltimore Sun photo by Gene Sweeney Jr. / June 24, 2011)
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Orioles manager Buck Showalter made sure Davis won't have too much time to dwell on that mistake. Davis started again at second base Friday against the Cincinnati Reds — the club's first game since Wednesday's loss in Pittsburgh.
"It's nice," said Davis, a shortstop by trade who has played just 20 games at second base in a six-season pro career before Friday. "It shows a little bit of confidence in me and I was kind of excited when I saw my name. I'll just get back out there and get ready to play."
In his first at-bat in the second inning Friday, he hit a two-run triple — nearly a home run — for his first big league hit, first extra-base hit and first RBI. It was a nice departure from Wednesday, when he went 0-for-4 and allowed a two-out grounder to scoot between his legs in the decisive fifth inning of the 4-3 loss to the Pirates.
Showalter reiterated Friday that the Orioles had multiple chances to make that play be a footnote and failed to convert opportunities. But he also admitted that he didn't want the 27-year-old rookie to continue to think about the error.
"That's not the only reason, but I think, yeah, it was [important]," Showalter said. "I don't want that sitting with him too long either. We'll see, but at some point you have to take advantages of your opportunities, too. But I thought it was in everybody's best interests to have him play again tonight."
Davis said several of his teammates and coaches came up afterward and offered encouragement, including reliever Michael Gonzalez, who has had his share of rough Oriole moments.
"Willie Randolph and some of the coaches were just, 'Shake it off. Don't worry about it. You can play this game,'" Davis said. "And Mike Gonzalez said, 'Don't worry about it, you're good.' So all the guys were supportive. It was really nice to hear that those guys have got my back."
Davis said before Friday's game that he wasn't worried about bouncing back. That mentality is key, Showalter said, to surviving in the majors.
"If that's a challenge for any player, then he gets weeded out. That's kind of cruel," Showalter said. "But it is tough to make a step and put it behind you if you don't get the opportunity."
Russell back as bench coach; Randolph at third
John Russell said he hasn't been told that his switch from third base coach to bench coach is permanent, but he's fine with the current arrangement.
"I am not in a position to say what it is going to be," said Russell, who was hired as third base coach. "It is Buck's decision. Right now, he wants me on the bench, and that's where I am."
Showalter said he made the switch — bench coach Willie Randolph is now coaching third — because it gives Russell, who also instructs the catchers, more time to spend in-game with Matt Wieters and Craig Tatum.
Showalter said he noticed how Russell interacted with the catchers earlier this season when Russell was forced to the bench because of a knee injury. Showalter, who initially made the change in Pittsburgh, said he also believes Russell's knee pain is still lingering.
"We wanted to get John closer to the catchers between innings," Showalter said about Russell, who spent three years as the Pirates' manager from 2008-2010. "Initially, it kind of worked out too with Pittsburgh and his familiarity with Pittsburgh. It's a better fit for the club, all things concerned, where we are right now."
What wasn't mentioned was some of the questionable "send" calls that Russell has made at third base this season — the worst was on Sunday in Washington, when he sent pitcher Chris Jakubauskas home from first on a double with no outs. Jakubauskas was thrown out easily.
It's the nature of the position, Russell said, to have your judgment calls criticized.
"If you don't send them, you're wrong. If you do send them and they get thrown out you are wrong. You are never right," Russell said. "If they score, they are supposed to score and if they get thrown out, it's your fault. There's never anything you can say. It's part of the territory. You learn to live with it."