SARASOTA, FLA. — Orioles first baseman Chris Davis said he’s ready to return to Grapefruit League games when the club plays its next home game on Saturday after missing two weeks with an elbow/forearm injury in his right throwing arm, and believes he will have enough time to prepare to be ready for Opening Day in less than two weeks.
“I would like to play tomorrow, but I’m not going to guarantee that,” Davis said Friday. “So I’ll let [manager] Buck [Showalter] make that decision and we’ll go from there.”
Speaking before Friday’s game against the New York Mets in Port St. Lucie, Showalter said the plan before the team came east was for Davis to play Sunday, and that hasn’t changed in his mind.
“He's making good progress,” Showalter said. “Every day is a little better. Right now, the plan is for him to play Sunday. When we left, it was. I haven't heard anything to make me think that's not going to happen.”
When asked about Davis’ wish to play on Saturday — it’s his 32nd birthday and Davis said he’d “like to home run and dance around the bases like a little leprechaun”—Showalter didn’t seem to think that was happening.
“We've sat down with him, we've had this discussion, and it's good to hear,” Showalter said. “But, Sunday — unless something changes. A trainer comes in and tells me tomorrow, he'll play tomorrow.”
Davis did all baseball activities on Thursday at the Ed Smith Stadium complex in Sarasota and was prepared to do the same Friday as the Orioles played their second of back-to-back games on Florida’s East Coast.
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“We did everything yesterday, so it was basically heat up, stretch, throw, swing, take ground balls, pretty much everything,” Davis said. “I felt good. I think it was definitely an issue of getting the fluid out of there and calming down some of the inflammation … staying after somewhat of a shoulder program, some forearm manuals, just little things I’m going to have to do here and there on top of always working out.”
Davis hasn’t played in a Grapefruit League game since leading off on March 2, and he received a cortisone injection in his elbow/forearm area on Saturday following a lull in his progress. But now, Davis is optimistic the injury is completely resolved and won’t be a recurring issue going into the regular season.
“These games are not games that you want to have to grind through as a starter, as a guy who is going to be there every day,” Davis said. “If you’re grinding out games in spring training, it’s just going to make – in my opinion – the season that much tougher. … You have to be conservative with what you have. Do you want to play 30 spring training games or do you want to play 162 games? I don’t really don’t want to play 162 games, but I’d rather play regular season games that mean something.”
Davis said there’s still enough time to be ready for the regular season, even if he must go on the road or to minor league games to get the at-bats necessary. He’s played in just five spring training games, and is 2-for-13 this spring. He’s averaged 18 Grapefruit League games and 51 at-bats over his previous six springs with the Orioles.
“It’s going to be one of those things where if I need to go over to some minor league games, I’m sure I’m going to do some road trips, the important part for me is making sure I was healthy.”
Showalter also stressed that he’d never said Davis would play in a major league game Sunday. Though it’s a camp day at Twin Lakes Park in minor league camp on Sunday, Showalter said Davis can get enough at-bats for Opening Day if he hangs back when the team flies north on Sunday, March 25 to play in more minor league games.