Oates yanks Davis out of the lineup, will 'wait and see'

Oriole notebook

May 16, 1993|By Jim Henneman | Jim Henneman,Staff Writer

DETROIT -- Orioles manager Johnny Oates said yesterday that Glenn Davis will be out of the starting lineup for an indefinite period.

After postponing the move for one day, Oates made his decision after Davis went 0-for-5 in Friday night's 4-3 loss to the Tigers. The struggling first baseman, Orioles notebook

engulfed in a 1-for-34 (0-for-18) slump, is hitting .172 with one home run and eight runs batted in.

"When I went home Wednesday night [after the Orioles had been shut out by the Red Sox for the second straight time], I thought this might be the time to sit him down for awhile," Oates said. "But coming out here on the plane, I thought about getting away from a hostile [home] crowd, Tiger Stadium and a pitcher [John Doherty] he'd had some success with, that we'd try it one more time."

But after Davis hit four weak fly balls and looked at a third strike with the lead run at third base and one out in the ninth inning, Oates couldn't wait any longer. "I talked to Glenn this morning [yesterday] and told him I was going to sit him down for a few days," Oates said.

Oates said the benching, however, wouldn't necessarily be temporary. Asked what would happen after a few days, he said: "We'll wait and see what happens.

"Hopefully we'll have Harold [Baines] coming back in a few days, and we'll give [Sherman] Obando, and maybe [Mark] Leonard some at-bats," Oates said. "We'll let Glenn rest for a while, give him some extra hitting and try to get him going in some less stressful situations."

Davis has been obviously tormented by his lack of success this year. For the most part he has suffered in silence while being the target of disgruntled fans at Camden Yards. But after his trying experience Friday night, Davis reportedly vented his frustration in the runway between the visitors dugout and clubhouse by demolishing a few light bulbs.

The plight of Davis and the Orioles is complicated by the near power failure of the rest of the lineup. "I don't have anybody to bat behind Cal [Ripken]," Oates said.

"There isn't anybody who is going to scare them enough to make them pitch to him [Ripken]. I wouldn't pitch to him either. Right now we've got a bunch of guys struggling."

Ripken, who is numbered among those trying to get untracked with only two home runs and 13 RBI, already has seven intentional walks, half as many as he had all last year.

Strategy session

Oates cleared up a curious strategic maneuver by the Orioles in the ninth inning of Friday night's loss. Mark McLemore bunted on his own after Harold Reynolds doubled to put the go-ahead run in scoring position.

The sacrifice got Reynolds to third, but Ripken was walked intentionally before Davis struck out and Tim Hulett hit into a force to end the inning. "We wanted Mac to make sure he got the runner over," Oates said, "and he did what he's been doing all his life."

But McLemore has been used to batting eighth and ninth all of his life, and Friday night was the first time he'd ever hit in the No. 3 spot in the major leagues. "You never take the bat out of the hands of your hottest hitter," Oates said. "We just wanted him to make sure he pulled the ball [to the right side of the field]."

Even though he would rather have seen McLemore swing, Oates absolved him of any blame. "I told Mac that he did his job -- he got the runner over, we're supposed to have people who can drive in a runner from third."

Chalk it up to inexperience at batting in the middle of the lineup. McLemore, who had two hits and a walk before his bunt, has been the club's most consistent hitter (.313). But he's not used to being a central figure in the batting order.

Red Wings redux?

If Oates had decided to play Leonard yesterday he could have had Triple-A Rochester's entire early season outfield in the lineup -- along with designated hitter Obando, who hadn't played above Double-A before this year.

Jack Voigt started in left field in place of Brady Anderson, given the day off against left-handers David Wells and Bill Krueger. Damon Buford has been the club's center fielder since Mike Devereaux went on the disabled list.

The right fielder, McLemore, wasn't even on the roster when spring training started and is a second baseman by trade.

Last-minute sub

Mark Williamson said his emergency start yesterday didn't create any problems.

"Sparky [Detroit manager Sparky Anderson] needed more time to get his lineup together than I did to get loose," Williamson said.

When the Orioles went from a left-handed starter to the right-handed Williamson it caused several changes in the Tigers' lineup. "They [the umpires] said they'd allow more time because of the circumstances," said Williamson, "so it wasn't a problem. The results just weren't too good."

Although he pitched 3 2/3 innings, Williamson said he'd be available today if Oates needed him.

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