New York — Orioles first baseman Chris Davis was left out of the lineup against hard-throwing left-hander James Paxton and the New York Yankees for Saturday's second game of the season, though manager Brandon Hyde said it wouldn't be a strict platoon situation for Davis.
"I see Chris being a part of our lineup," Hyde said Saturday. "This was just a day that I felt like would be a good day to take a breather. I'm trying to get him off to a good start, and I want Chris to feel good — like all of our guys. I want all of our guys to … be involved and feel like they're going to be part of the lineup. I don't want guys to sit too long, but also give them the best opportunities to have success. I think really good coaches do that."
Davis struck out in all three of his trips to the plate on Opening Day, when he batted seventh in what Hyde called a good matchup against right-hander Masahiro Tanaka.
Paxton is a new addition to the American League East after being acquired from the Seattle Mariners in the offseason, but Sunday's Yankees starter, left-hander J.A. Happ, is familiar from his time with the Toronto Blue Jays.
With that pair plus CC Sabathia in the Yankees rotation, talented left-handers Chris Sale, David Price and Eduardo Rodríguez in the Boston Red Sox rotation, and reigning Cy Young winner Blake Snell topping the Tampa Bay Rays’ group of starters, there aren't going to be many easy left-handed matchups on the Orioles' schedule this year.
Hyde said when Davis would play against left-handers would vary depending on several factors.
"Paxton is a tough left-handed pitcher, obviously, and he's a reverse-split guy, but he's tough on lefties and righties," Hyde said. "I want to play as many guys early as I can, also, and I wanted to see [Drew] Jackson in there, and I want Rio [Ruiz] and [Dwight Smith Jr.] to see some at-bats off a left-handed pitcher, as well as Rio's defense, and I want [Renato Núñez] get some at-bats. It was kind of a little bit of everything, but it's not going to be a set, where if a left-hander is starting, these guys are sitting, that kind of thing. It's going to be more on matchups and splits and different scenarios."
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Center fielder Cedric Mullins, a switch hitter who is better from the left side of the plate than the right, is also out of the lineup in favor of Jackson.
"I wanted to get Jacks in the lineup," Hyde said. "I thought he had a great spring training. I love his versatility. I think center field is real natural for him. He's played a lot of center field and that's just how it fit today."
Cobb rejoins the team
Right-hander Alex Cobb pitched five innings in a minor league game against the Minnesota Twins on Friday in Sarasota, Fla., before joining the Orioles in New York, and said he's on track to start Thursday's home opener against the Yankees after missing his Opening Day assignment with a right groin strain.
"I basically did a whole pregame week buildup to that, everything that I would normally do, even workout-wise," Cobb said. "In the course of the game, I had one or two plays where I had to sprint off the mound and make some plays, and there was not even any thought about it. It was nice peace of mind, leaving the game."
Cobb said it's some consolation to get to pitch the home opener after missing Thursday, even if he knew right when he suffered the injury that he might not make it back in time for the showcase start.
"Basically the same thing, without the game being on ESPN, really," Cobb said. "Facing the same team, and probably be similar atmosphere. At least the fans will be on our side — hopefully for the most part. So it'll be fun."
Around the horn
Opening Day starter Andrew Cashner will stay on regular rest and pitch Tuesday in Toronto, with David Hess pitching Monday against the Blue Jays.