OAKLAND, Calif. -- Baltimore Orioles manager John Oates marvels at the recent progress made by Glenn Davis just like everyone else, but he said yesterday that the injured first baseman will not be returned to the lineup even one day too soon.
"I am not going to push him," Oates said. "I don't want him to feel like we are pushing him or putting any kind of deadline on him. There is no urgency on the part of this ballclub to get Glenn back in the lineup."
That much is certain. The Orioles entered last night's game at the Oakland Coliseum 15 1/2 games out of first place in the American League East. Whether Davis returns in two weeks or two months, the club's division title hopes don't figure to change.
"When he comes back, we'll be a better ballclub," Oates added. "He's an All-Star-caliber player. I want to write his name in the lineup just as soon as possible, but I'd rather write it in two days late than one day early."
Davis said on Thursday that he could be back in "as little as 1 1/2 weeks or as many as three or four weeks or more," but the three-to-four week estimate might be conservative.
When he returns -- regardless of the time frame -- it will set off a chain reaction that will affect several members of the Orioles roster, most notably first baseman Randy Milligan.
Milligan was moved to left field in spring training to make room for Davis at first base, but he returned to first after Davis went on the disabled list with nerve damage in his neck.
Outfielder David Segui and designated hitter Sam Horn also could be affected, depending on how Oates eventually decides to use Davis.
"It's going to create some problems, but they are good type problems to have," Oates said. "You talk about depth. The return of Dwight [Evans] and Glenn makes us a better organization. It gives us more options."
Johnson effective again
Right-hander Dave Johnson made his third injury rehabilitation start for the Class AA Hagerstown Suns, pitching eight innings and giving up three runs (two earned) against the Albany-Colonie Yankees.
It was the first time that Johnson has been scored on during his injury rehab assignment. He has pitched a total of 18 innings and surrendered two earned runs (1.00 ERA) on 13 hits.
He apparently is close to returning from the disabled list, but with a 30-day limit on rehab assignment for pitchers, the club does not have to make a decision for another two weeks.
Evans not in lineup
Evans was not in the starting lineup last night, but it was not because he was physically unable to play.
Oates said that he would have been the designated hitter if there had been a left-hander on the mound for the Oakland Athletics. But Evans will not be thrown back into a full-time outfield role right away.
"I'm trying to bring him back slowly," Oates said. "The first time he goes out in the field, he's not going to go nine innings. What's the point of keeping him out there nine innings if we might blow it out for another three days?"
Martinez will play
Outfielder Chito Martinez will get a lot of playing time over the next few weeks, according to Oates, so that the club can fully evaluate him.
Martinez has appeared in every game since he was called up from the Class AAA Rochester Red Wings on July 5. He entered last night's game with six hits in his first 14 at-bats -- including his first major-league home run on Thursday night.
"He has played very well," Oates said. "You don't luck into what he did in the first half."
When the Orioles purchased Martinez's contract, he was leading the International League with 20 home runs. He picked up right where he left off, hitting safely in his first four games. His mechanics at the plate are a bit unorthodox, but the results are all that the Orioles care about.
"If you look at the guy, you say, 'Is this guy for real?' " Oates said. "If he is, looking down the road at our new ballpark with that right-field porch, it's an interesting situation.
"I've been impressed by him. He handles the curveball and the fastball. He hasn't been overmatched. He doesn't seem to be in awe of being in the big leagues. He's going to get to play a whole lot."
Martinez is the first Oriole to hit safely in his first four major-league games since Pete Stanicek in 1987.
Sunday's game, which originally was scheduled to be telecast on CBS-TV and tentatively rescheduled on Channel 2, will not be televised at all. . . The Orioles have allowed 44 percent of the opposition's scoring in the first three innings this year. . . The Orioles entered last night's game with the second-highest team batting average on the road (.271) in the majors. The California Angels are first.