By Dan Connolly, The Baltimore Sun
10:00 PM EDT, June 24, 2011
In his major league debut Wednesday, Orioles infielder Blake Davis played second base for the first time this year and made a key error that allowed the Pittsburgh Pirates to score the eventual game-winner.
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."
Russell said he has enjoyed his time at third and also on the bench — and that he's most excited about interacting more with the catchers in his new role.
"This gives me a lot more opportunity to talk to Matt and Craig about what's going on in the field," he said.
The Orioles also officially added roving catching instructor Don Werner to the staff Friday as bullpen coach until Aug. 1. Werner, 58, is in his ninth year in the organization. Hitting evaluator Terry Crowley has served as interim bullpen coach since June 14 when Rick Adair was promoted to pitching coach to replace Mark Connor, who resigned.
Guerrero back in lineup
After missing six starts in National League parks during interleague play, designated hitter Vladimir Guerrero was back in his accustomed spot at cleanup Friday.
"I know he's looking forward to getting back out there and we're looking forward to having him out there," Showalter said. "Hopefully, he used that time wisely, got freshened up a little bit."
Guerrero pinch-hit four times in the six road games, picking up one RBI single. But Showalter said Guerrero's presence on the bench was felt — by the Orioles and the opposing managers even when he wasn't used.
"He made two or three moves not happen by walking around over by the bat racks," Showalter said.
Around the horn
Right-hander Alfredo Simon (right hamstring strain) threw pain-free in Sarasota on Friday and is expected to pitch one or two innings Sunday for Double-A Bowie. If that goes well, it's possible he'll be activated Tuesday, the first day he is eligible to come off the DL. … Right-hander Jake Arrieta (elbow inflammation) threw a light side session Friday and is expected to throw a more intense session Saturday. If those go well, he is still in line to start Wednesday versus St. Louis. … Second baseman Brian Roberts, who is already on the disabled list with a concussion, will have his wisdom teeth pulled, Showalter said. … The Orioles' May 17 rainout against the Boston Red Sox will be made up Monday, Sept. 19 at 1:05 p.m. as part of a day-night doubleheader at Fenway Park. The 7:10 p.m. game between the two clubs, which was set to be the opener of the three-game series, will remain as scheduled. It will be the Orioles' third day-night doubleheader in 10 weeks thanks to rain earlier this season.
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