ATLANTA — Chris Davis couldn't pinpoint the last time he made a start in right field — a statement in itself how long and infrequent it's been.
But with the Orioles losing the designated hitter Friday in Atlanta, manager Buck Showalter's lineup creativity was tested.
Showalter gave Davis his first big league start in right field. Primarily a first baseman and third baseman, Davis played 54 minor-league games in the outfield, including 14 in left last season with Texas' Triple-A team, but he hadn't played right since his first pro season with short-season Class A Spokane.
"It's hard to remember that far back, but if it would have been any time, it probably would have been then," Davis said before the game. "I've played a little bit of outfield. I'm not going to be a Gold Glover out there, but I think I can at least get the job done hopefully. With the National League team taking away the DH, we've gotta try to do some things to mix up the lineup, and with Kakes [right fielder Nick Markakis] being out, there are some openings."
Davis likely surprised everyone when he made a diving catch to rob Chipper Jones of a hit in the bottom of the sixth.
Showalter didn't make the move for Davis' defense. He wanted to keep surging Mark Reynolds at first and Wilson Betemit, who had three RBI in his last start Wednesday, in the lineup at third. He talked to Davis before Friday's game and he said he was more comfortable in right than left.
"I'm not going to say the outfield is the outfield, but his arm plays better in right field and I like this situation with a left-handed starter," Showalter said. "It's one of those things interleague play forces you to do. He's swinging the bat well, so you've got to figure a way to get them in there. It's unfortunate, but I didn't make the schedule."
Davis, who hit .429/.500/.952 with 5 extra-base hits, 8 runs and 8 RBI on the team's six-game homestand, is hitting .361 with 7 homers and 16 RBI. His role in the lineup seems to be secure, but his position in the field isn't. Davis, who started 37 games at first base but made his last 11 starts at DH before Friday, said he was happy to get back into the field.
"I'm just happy to be playing on the other side of the ball," Davis said. "I feel like I've developed a pretty good routine. I'd still like to be a two-way player rather than being a 26-year-old DH, but it's whatever the team needs right now, and if they need me to DH, I'll give my best at bat, and if they need me to play somewhere else, I'm going to give it my all. We're playing well right now."
Asked if he could have more inventive lineups up his sleeve over the next five games at National League parks, Showalter left the door open.
"Ask me after tonight," he said. "We'll see how it goes. The ball has a way of finding everybody. Chris actually has played more games at third base than he has at first base. That's why you look at the history of your players. I knew coming into the season, we talked about it in the spring, about him playing the outfield some. So we'll see."
Reimold to see neurosurgeon
The Orioles received good and bad news on the health of left fielder Nolan Reimold, who has been held out of all baseball activites for nearly seven weeks with a bulging disk in his neck.
An MRI showed that the disk has shrunk and the inflammation is gone — the good news — but the club now has no reason why Reimold is still experiencing spots of tingling in his left arm and hasn't been able to regain his strength.
So Reimold — who has spent his time on the disabled list in and out of doctor's offices — will now see a neurosurgeon in Baltimore to see if his problems are nerve-related. Showalter said he expected to receive the neurosurgeon's findings Monday.
"It's kind of good and bad," Showalter said. "They liked what they saw from the MRI as far as the shrinkage of the disk and the inflammation's gone.
"Sometimes you have to start over some time to bring the strength back up," Showalter added. "I'm hoping that's what the neurosurgeon comes up with, but we're just trying to identify why if that disk is shrunk and the pain is gone, why he's not getting complete strength back."
Reimold started off the season hitting .313/.333/.627 with 5 homers and 15 RBIs in 16 games before the injury shelved him. He hasn't played since April 30, and this week he was transferred to the 60-day disabled list. He is eligible to return June 30, but at this point that seems optimistic.
Around the horn
Jamie Moyer allowed three runs (two earned) on seven hits over seven innings in his second start for Triple-A Norfolk. The 49-year-old lefty struck out seven and walked none. … Right-handed reliever Matt Lindstrom's rehab schedule is mapped out for the next week, Showalter said. It will include a bullpen session, then two Gulf Coast League games and possibly a rehab appearance at Double-A Bowie by late next week. … Outfielder Jai Miller, signed in the offseason to add outfield depth, was demoted from Norfolk to Double-A Bowie. Miller is hitting .190 with 93 strikeouts in 174 at bats this season.