Before making his first big-league start in rightfield on Friday night, Chris Davis picked his words carefully, but still got his point across.
“I’m just happy to be playing on the other side of the ball,” he said.
In the dugout after batting practice, Davis said a little more, that he doesn’t want to be a 26-year-old full-time designated hitter, that he’s willing to play all over the field and do anything to help the Orioles win. Without saying it, he made it clear he’s not necessarily happy that he had been relegated to DH for his last 11 starts.
The Orioles need Davis’ bat in the lineup. But let’s face it. The reason he’s being given a shot in right is because Nick Markakis is still recovering from wrist surgery and because the Orioles are without a DH in NL parks this week. And Davis hasn't had a good defensive season at first, with several routine plays escaping him.
Davis went inot Friday having played 54 games in the outfield – in the minor leagues, never in the majors – and had played right just twice in short-season Class A ball in 2006.
At times he looked slightly awkward running balls down, but got the job done. And his diving catch of Chipper Jones sure double down the rightfield line was the game’s Orioles’ best defensive play of the night.
And if you listen to Orioles manager Buck Showalter after the Orioles’ 4-2 loss, Davis’ effort might put his glove back to use on a regular basis.
“The best thing I thought about it was that he was excited about doing it, which tells you he’s not real comfortable with the DH role,” Showalter said. “It’s one this to put someone out there, they’ve got to want to impact the game, and Chris worked hard to take some time out there and it’s created some options for us moving forward.”
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