Davis is sitting pretty, progressing, says Oates


CHICAGO -- Glenn Davis did not start last night's 2-0 victory over Chicago and will not be in the starting lineup again until tomorrow, but manager Johnny Oates said he is satisfied with the progress Davis has made since returning from the disabled list May 4.

"He's getting there," Oates said. "He had some good at-bats the other night. He has had some good swings."

Davis hit a shot to the warning track at Arlington Stadium on Tuesday night, but he has not been in the lineup since. Oates said his absence is more a matter of conditioning than performance.

"He's ready as far as the bat goes," Oates said, "but as far as his legs and throwing, he's still got some work to do. I'm happy where he is now. Physically, right now, it's just not time yet."

It apparently is not a question of whether Davis wants to play. He does. It is more a matter of working back into everyday playing shape without risking further aggravation of the strained rib-cage muscle that sidelined him.

"I think Glenn's attitude is, if I say to play today, he'll play," Oates said, "but I can tell from our conversation that he's not 100 percent in every phase yet."

The Thomas tapes

Oates spent part of the past week watching tapes of first baseman Frank Thomas, hoping to find something that would help his pitchers keep the White Sox slugger from knocking down the fences.

"I looked at tapes of how other people have pitched him," Oates said before Thomas' 2-for-4 effort last night. "It is consistent with the way we've tried to pitch him, but you can't pitch him the same way every time."

Though Oates said he felt the analysis was useful, he stopped short of saying he had figured out a way to stop Thomas, who is 8-for-11 lifetime against Orioles starter Mike Mussina with two home runs.

"I believe we have something to work with," Oates said, "but the guy is so strong and he has such a good eye, he's going to get his hits. The idea is to keep him from blowing the ballgame open. The idea is to try to keep the ball in the ballpark."

Mussina succeeded in doing that, yielding a line-drive single to right field in three at-bats. Gregg Olson yielded an infield single to Thomas in the ninth.

"Having George Bell in the lineup behind him makes it even harder," Oates said. "You've got to pitch to him."

Poole update

Left-hander Jim Poole pitched 13 minutes of batting practice yesterday and reported no problems. If all goes well, he'll throw 15 minutes on Monday and could begin a rehabilitation assignment later in the week.

Oates indicated that Poole probably would work on alternating days during the minor-league assignment, increasing his workload gradually to get ready to return to the Orioles bullpen. The best-case timetable is about two weeks.

Johnny on the spot

Someone asked Oates who among the players he has managed has the makeup to be a successful major-league manager. His answer -- former Orioles catcher Bob Melvin.

"There are a lot of guys who think they are [managerial material]," Oates said, "but Bob Melvin is the one who says the right things and asks the right questions."

The right stuff

Here are some of the reasons that the Orioles are off to one of their best starts in history:

* The Orioles have a league-leading 2.90 team ERA, the club's lowest ERA this late in the season since 1973.

* This is the first time since 1984 that the team has led the league in ERA after May 1.

* Orioles starters pitched into the sixth inning 26 times in the club's first 34 games.

* Opposing hitters have a .196 batting average against the Orioles bullpen -- the lowest in the league.

* The current bullpen has allowed just five of 47 inherited runners to score.

* The bullpen has allowed just one earned run in its last 22 2/3 innings.

Makeup date for Red Sox

The Boston Red Sox announced that their rained-out game with the Orioles on April 16 will be made up as part of a day-night doubleheader with separate admission July 31. The day game will start at 1:35 p.m. and the night game at 7:35 as scheduled.

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