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Davis will spend rest of season playing third base

Adam Jones misses Monday's game due to thumb injury

By Dan Connolly, The Baltimore Sun

8:42 PM EDT, September 12, 2011

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One question the Orioles hope to figure out in the next three weeks is whether Chris Davis can be in the mix at third base heading into 2012.

A good defensive first baseman, Davis will be the club's primary third baseman until the season ends, assuming his right shoulder handles the grind.

"We know Chris can play first base at a high level and have been told by some people who know and have seen him that he's got a chance to be a good third baseman, too," said Orioles manager Buck Showalter. "He's got the arm strength and athleticism, so shame on us if we don't use this opportunity to look at it and allow us to make better decisions as we go forward."

In parts of four seasons in the big leagues, Davis has played 218 games at first base and 57 at third. He started his fifth game at third for the Orioles on Monday (he's had 11 starts at first with his new team).

"If I am playing third every day, I like third better. If I am playing first every day, I like first better," said Davis, whom the Orioles acquired, along with Tommy Hunter, in July's Koji Uehara trade with Texas. "I don't necessarily like going back and forth, but I feel like it is something I can do. It's just one of those things that the more you are over there, the more you are playing, the more comfortable you feel."

Davis is probably the club's best defensive first baseman, but Mark Reynolds, who has made a major-league leading 29 errors this season, including 26 at third, looks more settled at first base and has never been a designated hitter.

So Davis is at third — and so far the tear in his labrum which pushed him to a disabled list stint earlier this month has not been affected.

"It feels great. I was really surprised it has responded as well as it has. I haven't had any problems," Davis said. "The first couple days there was a little bit of stiffness, but it feels great and to go out and be able to pick a ball up and start throwing and not feel anything. I think that is huge."

Davis said he plans to rest the shoulder this offseason, not play winter ball and not powerlift as much as he usually does. He hopes to come into spring training at 230 pounds instead of 245. That should give him a little more flexibility if he is needed at third full-time.

"I think my body will hold up a little bit better and maybe I'll be able to move around a little bit better at third," he said.

Jones misses third straight game

Orioles center fielder Adam Jones missed his third straight start Monday, this time due to a sore right thumb which he said has bothered him for weeks. He was scheduled to have an X-Ray of the thumb — which may be deeply bruised — shortly before Monday's game and it will be compared to a similar X-Ray he had in July.

He has no problem throwing, but it hurts to grip a bat.

"I've been playing through it, but the past few weeks (it) has been painful," Jones said. "I'd rather just get a picture to see exactly what's wrong with it."

Jones sat out Saturday due to a swollen left ankle and Sunday's lineup scratch was a combination of the two ailments. He is still listed as day-to-day and said he could have started Monday if needed.

"Every guy out there has got something we don't talk about every day," Showalter said. "And Adam's just got one of those things that won't completely go away. A lot of guys have things that won't go away until probably a month or so until the season is over."

Delmonico visits Camden Yards

Orioles 2011 sixth rounder Nick Delmonico was at Camden Yards to take pre-game batting practice Monday before he heads to Sarasota for instructional league this week.

"It's a dream come true. You dream about this when you are little. To be able to have a chance to hit on a Major League Baseball field is something special," said Delmonico, who hit several balls into the Camden Yards seats. "I'm very blessed to be given this opportunity and lucky enough to hit a few good ones."

The son of former University of Tennessee baseball coach Rod Delmonico, the 19-year-old third baseman said he hadn't been to Camden Yards since he was about 8, when he had a chance to meet one of his baseball heroes, Alex Rodriguez, who was with the Seattle Mariners.

"That was the last time I was here," said Delmonico, who signed a $1.525 million deal to eschew a baseball scholarship to the University of Georgia. "I never thought I'd be hitting in this ballpark when I was younger."

Tillman needs the break

Showalter was asked Monday why pitcher Chris Tillman was not recalled when rosters expanded this month. The manager said it was a combination of things including the need for other pitchers — such as Zach Britton and Rick VandenHurk — to get starts and the fact they had seen Tillman plenty this year.

The 23-year-old righty was 3-5 with a 5.52 ERA in 13 starts with the Orioles and 3-6 with a 5.19 ERA in 15 starts at Triple-A Norfolk. He threw a combined 138 1/3 innings this season.

"Let him rest from the season and hopefully (he'll) be ready to come in and compete next year for a spot," Showalter said about Tillman. "Overall, thinking about all the factors, it was in his best interest to be done with the season."

Around the horn

The High-A Frederick Keys beat Potomac 3-2 on Monday in the fifth and final game of the Northern Division Championship Series to advance to the Carolina League championship. They'll host Kinston starting Tuesday. ... RHP Jason Berken (right forearm/elbow) was activated from the disabled list Monday. … Brian Graham, coordinator of minor league instruction, has joined the Orioles as an additional coach. … The Orioles will hold their annual Cardboard to Leather collection at Camden Yards before Saturday's game. Used baseball equipment and donations will be collected and donors will receive an autographed player card while supplies last. A silent auction also will be held. Proceeds and the equipment will be donated to youth baseball leagues in Nicaragua, Puerto Rico and Japan. … Washington Capitals star Alexander Ovechkin will throw out Friday's first pitch.

dan.connolly@baltsun.com

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