Orioles react to Davis suspension

September 12, 2014|By Jon Meoli | The Baltimore Sun

With the Orioles closing in on their first division title in 17 years, the resilient ballclub found out Friday its pennant run would not include slugging first baseman Chris Davis, who Major League Baseball suspended 25 games for a drug policy violation.

"I can't speak for everybody, but I'm sure guys are disappointed to lose such a big part of our team like that at this time of year," said Orioles pitcher Darren O'Day, who was Davis' teammate for three seasons with the Texas Rangers before both came to the Orioles. "We're going to miss him — on the field, off the field — and I'm sure he's going to miss us a lot. It's going to be tough on him for these next few weeks.

"I know how much Chris loves playing baseball, and loves coming to the park every day and being with his teammates. I'm surprised that he would put that in jeopardy."

The league announced Friday morning that Davis, who was batting .196 with 26 home runs and 72 RBIs, had failed a second drug test for banned amphetamines. Davis accepted the suspension and said in a statement issued by the players union that he took Adderall.

"It's just a bad situation overall, and I think he knows that," outfielder Nick Markakis said. "We all know that, and it's something we have to deal with."

No one who spoke between games of Friday's doubleheader against the New York Yankees seemed to feel Davis was wronged, or that the ban was unjust. Markakis said Davis knows what he did was wrong.

"We have rules to abide by. Those are things we have to do as a baseball player," Markakis said. "They don't set them for just any rhyme or reason. It is to keep the integrity of the game and protect our players, too."

Because of those rules, ballplayers need to be accountable for what they put in their bodies, center fielder Adam Jones said.

Added Jones: "It's unfortunate — a great guy made a mistake I'm sure he's regretting. As a team, we will stick by him, we still have faith in him. … Bad move, bad decision, but we support him."

Both Jones and Markakis noted the timing of the suspension as particularly tough. The suspension covers the last 17 games of the regular season, and eight postseason games, should the team play that many.

"The timing is obviously the worst of everything, because we are going into the stretch run and trying to get into the playoffs and all of this, but it's the nature of the game," Jones said. "We support him, but we are going to be without [him] for 25 games, so we are going to have to pick up the slack."

The Orioles are no stranger to that. Davis, third baseman Manny Machado, and catcher Matt Wieters have all missed extended time this season, with the latter two out for the season after knee and elbow surgeries, respectively.

Those absences left Jones, Markakis and power hitting outfielder Nelson Cruz to shoulder a bigger offensive responsibility, though seemingly every player on the roster has come up with a game-changing hit at some point. The team was mulling adding a minor league player to the roster, and currently has Steve Pearce to play first base, Ryan Flaherty to play either corner position, and Jimmy Paredes, who can also play third.

The long-range concerns about Davis' absence were evident for a team that entered the day with a 10-game lead in the American League East, but Friday's doubleheader provided a quick respite from the disappointment of losing Davis.

Pitcher Kevin Gausman, who threw seven shutout innings in the first half of Friday's doubleheader, said news spread around the clubhouse before that game.

"We didn't know anything at all," Gausman said. "I didn't know what it was or how it happened or anything like that."

Once the game started, Gausman said he "just tried to focus on the game."

"There's nothing we can do to change the suspension or anything," Gausman said. "The only thing we can do is go out and win ballgames. That's what Buck told us. The only way to really show how strong of a team we are is to win."

Showalter viewed the 2-1, walk-off win in the afternoon game Friday was a necessary lift for the club.

"To try to underplay that wouldn't be completely frank about it," Showalter said. "We've had a lot of challenges, some of them self-inflicted, and you've got to fight your way through it."

jmeoli@baltsun.com

twitter.com/JonMeoli

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