(Updated: 6:25 p.m.)
Orioles manager Buck Showalter reacted how you’d expect him to following Friday night’s loss to the Los Angeles Angels in which first baseman Chris Davis left the game with a right knee injury.
But he had to breathe a sign of relief on Saturday as Davis is likely to avoid the disabled list, according to executive vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette in several reports. Team doctors won’t see the results until the Orioles return to Baltimore following the road trip, but Angels team doctors provide a favorable prognosis after looking at results from a Saturday MRI.
Davis is considered day-to-day and wasn’t in the lineup on Saturday as Steve Pearce took his place.
Showalter was optimistic Friday night while pointing to the slew of injuries the club has already endured over the last two seasons, but you just know the Orioles were fearing the prospects of life without the slugger in the middle of the lineup. Davis injured his knee stepping on first base after running out a grounder to third in the top of the fifth inning. His knee appeared to buckle and he struggled to put any weight on his right leg as he exited the game.
Earlier this week, Davis was named American League Player of the Month for April and is hitting .330 with nine home runs and 29 runs batted in after a blistering start to the season.
Adding insult to injury on Friday night, Showalter was forced to insert Ryan Flaherty — and his .108 batting average — at first base with the backup first baseman Pearce already serving as the designated hitter. Without knowing how long Davis will be out, the Orioles’ options on the 25-man roster beyond Pearce were limited as outfielders Nolan Reimold and Nick Markakis have only played the position sparingly.
Minor-league candidates included Danny Valencia, Russ Canzler, and Travis Ishikawa. Of those three, Ishikawa has been playing regularly at first base for Triple-A Norfolk but is hitting only .235. Valencia is hitting .323 with four homers and 18 RBIs while Canzler has a .281 average and leads the Tides in home runs (five) and RBIs (21).
Of course, it was too early to panic until the Orioles learned of Davis’ prognosis, but the lamenting already heard from fans this spring over the departure of Mark Reynolds would have only grown louder if Davis had landed on the disabled list.
And it would have been difficult to blame them if Davis had been out for any significant amount of time with so few viable options to replace him.