MILWAUKEE -- The long-awaited return of first baseman Glenn Davis will be followed closely by the long-awaited arrival of pitching prospect Arthur Rhodes, both of whom were scheduled to join the Baltimore Orioles traveling party last night in Arlington, Texas.
The Orioles announced that Davis would be activated today and start tonight's series opener against the Texas Rangers. Rhodes was summoned from the Class AA Hagerstown Suns and will be placed on the roster in time to start Wednesday night's game.
The roster has been in a state of turnover for several weeks, and there is more to come. The club has to make room on the roster for Davis, which could mean a 10-day minor-league assignment for someone on the Orioles bench. Outfielder Brady Anderson could be a candidate, though whoever goes down probably would be recalled when the rosters expand Sept. 1.
The Orioles will purchase Rhodes' contract Wednesday, which also will require a reciprocal move, perhaps involving one of the two veteran starters who have been displaced by the most recent changes.
Right-hander Dave Johnson has been sent to the bullpen to make room for Rhodes. Roy Smith was replaced in the rotation by Jose Mesa. One of them could go the way of Jeff Ballard and Jeff Robinson, two other veterans who were pushed out of the major-league pitching staff earlier.
The rotation of the future is in place. Bob Milacki, Ben McDonald, Mesa, Mike Mussina and Rhodes will make every start the rest of the way if they are physically capable. Rhodes will make his debut against a Rangers lineup that is particularly tough on left-handed pitching, but the test of fire is what this is all about, anyway.
"He'll have to face them eventually," manager John Oates said. "We're doing this to get a read on him for next year. Maybe next spring, we'll see that he needs to go to Triple A next year, but who knows?"
Rhodes' recall was not unexpected. Oates hinted Saturday that he might arrive in the major leagues before the Sept. 1 roster expansion and explained why the move was made 10 days early.
hTC "We wanted to see him in a couple of starts before everybody brings up their minor-league players," he said. "We want to see him against some 25-man rosters instead of some 40-man rosters."
Rhodes was 7-4 with a 2.70 ERA in 19 starts for the Suns. He struck out 115 in 106 2/3 innings and held Eastern League hitters to a combined .194 average, but he lost his last three minor-league decisions.
Davis spent seven games with the Suns as part of an injury rehabilitation assignment, batting .250 with a home run and three RBI in 24 at-bats. He homered Friday night and doubled home a couple of runs Saturday, which was enough to convince the Orioles that he was ready to return to the major-league lineup.
He has been on the disabled list since April 25 with a damaged spinal accessory nerve in his neck, so the club is looking forward to seeing him in the starting lineup for the final seven weeks of the season.
"You better believe it," Oates said. "It's something that the organization has looked forward to since last winter. I'm looking forward to putting his name in the lineup."
Davis played 12 games at the start of the season and hit four home runs in 41 at-bats, but he has not been completely healthy since he suffered the injury early in the exhibition season.
He picked an interesting night to make his comeback -- the same night that Nolan Ryan returns after three weeks on the disabled list.
Oates said last week that he probably would use Davis as the designated hitter in his first game back, but he said yesterday that it would be up to Davis to decide whether he wants to open at first base.
"It would be nice if he could play first base," Oates said, "because Randy Milligan has not had a lot of success against Nolan, so I'd like to get Sam Horn in as DH. But, who knows? Maybe Randy is due to have some success."