Orioles manager Johnny Oates had said he wanted to make first baseman Glenn Davis' return to the lineup a gradual one.
But he got an opportunity to get Davis, absent for six weeks with a rib-cage muscle strain, back into competition quickly last night, when the Minnesota Twins yanked righthanded starter Kevin Tapani in the fourth for lefthanded reliever Mark Guthrie.
Davis pinch hit for designated hitter Sam Horn in the fifth, grounding out to third, and batted again in the seventh, striking out.
Davis said he felt "really good," but that "everything was just in fast motion, super speed. Everything was happening fast."
The crowd greeted him warmly, and Davis said he was touched by the response.
"It gave me an indication of the true fan reaction. It told me that the things that were being said were not the true response," said Davis. "That's super for me."
Oates announced before the game that, with Bill Krueger, a lefthander, going for Minnesota tonight, Davis will start at DH.
Oates said he planned to use Davis first as a pinch hitter, then at DH, then back in at first base for nine innings.
In fact, the manager said that if the Texas Rangers had brought in a lefthanded reliever in the sixth inning Tuesday, he would have sent Davis, who was reactivated after Monday night's win over the Rangers, to the plate as a pinch hitter.
Oates is faced with the task of finding at-bats and playing time for Davis at a time when Randy Milligan and David Segui are playing well at first.
Milligan has reached base 13 times in his past six games, and is hitting .333 with runners in scoring position.
Segui, who can play in the outfield, has hit in six straight games, batting .381 during that span.
"Randy's going to be in there, David's going to be in there. They're all going to be in there. They've earned the right to play," said Oates.
Still, it's clear that Davis, who missed 105 games last season with an injury to the spinal accessory nerve in his neck that caused weakness in his right shoulder, will play regularly at either first base or DH.
"He's going to be in the lineup somewhere. He's going to be in there in one of those two places," said Oates. "He may not be in there every day, but he'll be in there most of the time."
* TICKETS AND SUCH: Last night's attendance of 35,550 was the smallest of the 13 crowds at Camden Yards, and the second time this week the team has drawn fewer than 40,000 fans. (Monday's crowd against Texas was 36,511.)
* HOMER HAPPY: The Orioles ran their consecutive streak of games with at least one homer to 11.
At Oriole Park, the team has hit at least one homer in each of its past seven games.