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First baseman Chris Davis was out of the starting lineup for the Orioles' series opener against the Tampa Bay Rays on Monday night with an undiagnosed illness, manager Buck Showalter said before the game.

Showalter hoped that Davis would be available in some form off the bench.

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"They're waiting on the internist for Tampa [Bay] to get here," Showalter said. "Obviously, he's under the weather."

Without Davis, Showalter stacked his lineup with right-handed hitters against left-hander Blake Snell, who holds left-handers to a .212 batting average.

Mark Trumbo filled in for Davis as first and rookie Trey Mancini, who regularly played his original position of first base when Davis was on the disabled list with an oblique strain, was in his converted position of left field.

"I don't like to have Trumb DH too much," Showalter said. "I think he needs to stay connected defensively. … Trumbo is either going to play right field or first base, and if he plays right field, then Mancini has to come in and then Joey [Rickard] moves around [from right to left], so I think you're looking at where you hope you're best defensively too."

As for Davis, he's actually hitting for a higher average against left-handers (.244), than righties (.202) this season, but he entered Monday just 6-for-37 with 16 strikeouts since returning from the disabled list in the Orioles' first game after the All-Star break.

His ninth-inning bunt in a one-run game Friday night, a decision he said he made because of the "feast or famine" results he's had since his return, was a sign of his struggles.

Four of Davis' six hits since coming off the DL were for extra bases (three homers and one double).

Returning to division play

For the Orioles to have any logistical hope of reaching the postseason — they entered Monday four games under .500 but just 3 1/2 games out of the second AL wild-card spot — they need to finish at least third in the American League East.

So getting back into division play against Tampa Bay, which entered the day holding that spot, offered a change after opening the nonmathematical second half of the season with 10 straight games against nondivision opponents (Chicago Cubs, Texas Rangers, Houston Astros) on their 5-5 homestand.

"Getting in our division, we may be a little more knowledgeable and comfortable about what you're facing and what they can do and not do," Showalter said. "It's a lot better than playing the Brewers in the middle of the season or playing the Pirates in the last week of the season. I've still got to have someone explain that one to me. I don't think there's any advantage or disadvantage. You just line them up and play them. You just know everybody's not facing the same advantages of the schedule. I think we've had the toughest schedule, what four years in a row?"

The Orioles entered Monday 26-20 against the AL East.

Orioles second baseman Jonathan Schoop drove in 16 RBIs during the past week, earning AL Player of the week honors,

Around the horn

Double-A Bowie outfielder Austin Hays — one of the organization’s fast-tracked position player prospects — needed 10 stitches after he was hit by his own foul ball Sunday.  … High-A Frederick third baseman Jomar Reyes, a top prospect who has been out since mid-May with a broken right pinkie finger, is near returning to games, Showalter said. Reyes would likely start in the Rookie-level Gulf Coast League. … Utility man Ryan Flaherty (right shoulder strain) and Rule 5 draft outfielder Anthony Santander (right forearm strain) are scheduled to begin minor league rehabilitation games Thursday.

eencina@baltsun.com

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