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Orioles first baseman Chris Davis ‘unavailable’ for home opener, manager Brandon Hyde says

When Orioles first baseman Chris Davis, the team’s longest-tenured player, spoke on a video call from his home Tuesday, he not only reinforced his desire to continue playing as baseball contended with the Miami Marlins’ COVID-19 outbreak, but said that he planned to wear a mask on the field.

That opportunity wasn’t afforded to him Wednesday. Davis wasn’t at Camden Yards and was left out of the lineup for Wednesday’s home opener against the New York Yankees for unspecified reasons, manager Brandon Hyde said.

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Davis started all three games this past weekend against the Boston Red Sox and spoke Tuesday night of both his and the Orioles’ desire to continue playing through this season despite the Marlins’ COVID-19 outbreak. According to Hyde, Davis is the only Orioles player not available Wednesday.

Hyde indicated that no roster move was being made for Davis, including putting the veteran on the COVID-19 injured list, but that he was not at the ballpark.

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“CD is not here today,” Hyde said. “He’s unavailable, so not in the lineup.”

When asked if it was a baseball-related issue or injury, Hyde again demurred.

“I can’t comment any further on what I said,” Hyde said. “Unavailable.”

Hyde is typically forthcoming with player availability except for certain personal medical situations. When reliever Hunter Harvey didn’t appear in several days of intrasqaud games and exhibition games last week, Hyde said that he had arm soreness.

By comparison, the team’s policy surrounding possible positive COVID-19 tests is to not announce them, leaving it to the player to dictate whether that information is made public.

That was the policy when outfielders Dwight Smith Jr. and Anthony Santander tested positive upon intake, with Hyde unable to talk about what was keeping them away from the team in his daily media sessions.

When those two players’ absences first became clear, Hyde said that he was told not to talk about it and didn’t elaborate. Executive vice president and general manager Mike Elias cited the time it takes for clarity on such situations in explaining that the Orioles “don’t like to be cagey or withhold info” regarding player absences for that reason.

“But again, this is a private medical matter for these individual people, and I don’t think it’s anyone’s best interest to get out in front of it, mislabel something and have to unwind that later for whatever reason,” Elias said at the time.

MLB’s protocols require not only those with positive tests but those who are possibly experiencing symptoms or have come into contact with someone who has to stay away from the club until they’re cleared.

Davis, the team’s representative to the players’ union, spoke Tuesday of his desire to continue playing even with his family and small children at home as the Marlins’ COVID-19 outbreak shook up the game, forcing five teams to alter their schedules. He said that he planned to wear a mask at first base for Wednesday’s home opener to protect himself.

“I can’t even think about bringing this home, but it’s the risk that I assumed,” Davis said. “My wife and I have talked about it on more than one occasion. We think it’s something that’s worth at least going out there and giving it a shot before we call it quits. I’m going to do everything I can to protect myself and hopefully be able to get through this season with no hiccups.”

Around the horn

  • Top pitching prospect Grayson Rodriguez was added to the Orioles’ player pool Wednesday and reported to the alternate site at Double-A Bowie.
  • The Orioles traded right-hander Hector Velázquez, who was outrighted off the roster last week and wasn’t a part of the player pool, to the Houston Astros for a player to be named later.
  • Hyde didn’t specify who would start any of the games when the Tampa Bay Rays come to town Friday, but did say that it was “very, very probable” that John Means would make his season debut Thursday. That game time was moved to 7:05 p.m.

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