Orioles right-hander Yovani Gallardo, who is on the disabled list with right shoulder tendinitis, will make at least one more minor league rehabilitation start before returning to the major league starting rotation.
Instead of being activated from the DL to pitch Sunday's series finale in Toronto, Gallardo will make his second start for Triple-A Norfolk, and his third rehab start overall, on Monday in Charlotte. If all goes well there, Gallardo would be on track to return on June 18 at home against the Blue Jays.
Orioles manager Buck Showalter said the decision to give Gallardo another rehab start was rooted in giving the veteran pitcher a pair of strong back-to-back starts at Triple-A before returning to the majors.
Gallardo hasn't pitched in a major league game since April 22, when he exited after two rocky innings in Kansas City. Gallardo's recovery has been slow, but he and the Orioles said they believe they will see better results because of it, especially since Gallardo has embraced new shoulder strengthening exercises that they think should give his pitches added life.
"We just felt like it would be good to get him one more," Showalter said. "He's close. [Pitching coach Dave Wallace] and him sat down the past couple days and talked about it. We'll see how the work day goes tomorrow, but we think [it's] the most prudent thing to do with his injury and making sure he has some of that doubt out of his mind, too."
Gallardo allowed three runs on four hits over five innings, striking out five and walking two for Norfolk on Tuesday, throwing 85 pitches. The Orioles are looking for another start of about five innings and 85 to 90 pitches Monday.
"He was pitching in a 12 noon game [in his last start]," Showalter said. "It was hot and sticky, humid, weren't many people in the stands. In fact, I was really pleased with how the intensity level was for him there and the stuff. Charlotte is a real hitter-friendly ballpark."
Gallardo was 1-1 with a 7.00 ERA in four starts before going on the disabled list.
In his last rehab start, Gallardo's fastball sat at 89-90 mph and reached 91, above the four regular-season starts he made in April, when his fastball averaged about 88 mph.
Davis back in lineup: First baseman Chris Davis, who had played in all 57 games this season before sitting out Wednesday's series finale against the Kansas City Royals, was back in the starting lineup Thursday in Toronto.
Showalter said it was a normal day off for Davis, who had endured a rough three-week stretch at the plate. Davis agreed that is was nice to get a day off.
"It's a different year. You're a little bit older," Davis said. "I think there are different times in a season when you just need a blow and it was a perfect situation to take that chance, get a day off and kind of get my feet back underneath me and get after them again today."
Before Thursday, four Orioles players had played in every game this season: Davis, Manny Machado, Jonathan Schoop and Mark Trumbo.
Davis hit just .137 (10-for-73) over his 20 games before his day off, with three homers and five RBIs over that span, while logging 34 strikeouts.
He has played through a left thumb injury for 6 1/2 weeks, and often has the thumb wrapped heavily after games but said he has learned to adjust to the injury, limiting the number of swings he takes some days.
"It's kind of a feel thing," Davis said. "There's really no rhyme or reason. You just kind of have to listen to your body and do what you can do. … It's a part of the game. You're going to have nicks and bruises. It's part of playing every day. It's a part of demanding as much out of your body as you possibly can.
"There are things every year that you deal with. But it's a part of the game and I've been doing this long enough to know kind of how to get through that and keep going. So that's all I've been trying to do, come in here every day and try to do everything I can to help us win the game."
Around the horn: Shortstop J.J. Hardy (fractured bone in left foot) continued his rehab at extended spring training in Sarasota, Fla., on Thursday, taking batting practice, hitting in the cages and fielding grounders. … Catcher Caleb Joseph (testicular surgery) will begin to take batting practice and start throwing Tuesday. He has a follow-up appointment Wednesday and could go on a rehab assignment to get at-bats after that. But Joseph can't resume catching until June 28. … With Wednesday's outing, right-hander Chris Tillman became the fifth pitcher in club history to go 7-0 or better with at least 60 strikeouts over a span of 10 starts within a single season. The other pitchers to accomplish that were right-handers Pat Dobson (1971), Jim Palmer (1972 and 1973) and Mike Mussina (1997), and left-hander Erik Bedard (2007).