Chris Davis plays three innings in an instructional league game Friday

Suspended slugger goes 1-for-2 with a walk as he tries to regain his timing

September 26, 2014|By Michael Kolligian | For The Baltimore Sun

SARASOTA, Fla. -- Chris Davis returned to the baseball field Friday, but it was a field far from the one the Orioles played on in Toronto.

Davis was over a thousand miles away in steamy Sarasota, playing Instructional League baseball as he tries to remain in shape during his 25-game suspension for a positive amphetamine test.

In his first game since reporting to the Orioles’ Sarasota complex on Tuesday, Davis went 1-for-2 with a walk against a pair of 18-year-old Tampa Bay Rays prospects in a game that ended in a 9-inning, 3-3 tie.

Davis — who will miss at least the first eight games the Orioles play in the postseason, should they advance that far — left Friday’s game after three innings. He is not speaking with the media while in Sarasota.

The 2013 major league home run and RBI leader was suspended Sept. 12 after the second positive test for amphetamines in his career. Davis said in a statement that he took Adderall without authorization.

Davis is not allowed to be with the major league team during his suspension, but he can play in the instructional league. Under the lax rules here, the Orioles can juggle their batting order during the game, which allowed Davis to hit three times in his three innings Friday.

In his first plate appearance against right-hander Deivy Mendez, Davis worked a walk on a 3-1 count. In the second inning, Mendez retired Davis on fly ball to medium right field on a 3-2 slider.

Davis’ third plate appearance was against lefty Brock Burke, whom the Rays selected in the third round of the June draft. After working another 3-2 count, Davis fouled off three offerings before legging out an infield single on a ground ball up the middle.

Davis played all three innings at third base. A wide throw to first on a slow-roller allowed a runner to reach in his lone fielding chance.

“It was good to see him out there,” said Gary Kendall, the Double-A Bowie skipper who was managing the instructional league team. “Chris has missed a little bit of time, so it was all about getting his timing back, getting out on the field and getting acclimated to some game situations.”

Kendall anticipates that Davis will make steady progress in the coming days, both in quantity and quality of play.

“He played three innings today, and each day it will increase,” Kendall said. “He got the bat going a little bit. I know he misfired on some pitches he usually hits, but it’s going to come. The timing will come back, getting his swing down and getting into the rhythm of the game.

“For a first day, it was all positive.”

According to Kendall, Davis has been an engaging presence with his mostly teenaged teammates since arriving in Sarasota.

“Oh, he’s been great,” Kendall said. “That’s one thing that Buck [Showalter] has really has brought to the organization. It’s not just here, but in Bowie or Frederick … wherever a player has a minor league assignment. When they come, they interact.”

Kendall also credits the Orioles’ Sarasota training facilities as being a big factor behind the familiarity that players from every level of the organization share.

“One of the great things about being here in Sarasota is that the minor leaguers and the major leaguers share the same facilities, so they get acquainted during spring training and get a chance to interact daily. That creates a positive identity for the organization.”

The earliest Davis could possibly is Game 4 of the American League Championship Series. But teams need to set their 25-man rosters before each series, so even if the Orioles advance past the division series, they will need to decide whether to carry Davis on the roster for the ALCS, knowing he’ll miss at least part of it.

The club has not made any definitive announcement concerning Davis’ future.

He was batting .196 with 26 home runs and 72 RBIs through 127 games at the time of his suspension.

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