The Baltimore Orioles’ All-Star 1st baseman Chris Davis was placed on the 15-day DL after leaving Friday’s game with an oblique injury.
Davis, who will most likely spend more than the mandatory 15 days on the disabled list, has yet to really break through with the power he hit for in 2013, as he had just 2 home runs at the time of the injury. As of now, the Orioles will be using utility man Ryan Flaherty and outfielder Nick Markakis at first base, but the front office has been looking outside the organization for help while the slugger is out.
With third baseman Manny Machado still recovering from his knee injury, and now with Chris Davis joining him on the DL, the Orioles are suddenly very low on depth in the infield. Shortstop J.J. Hardy has been in and out of the lineup early on this season, as he has had both hamstring and back issues. That means three out of four starting infielders have battled injuries in this month of April. Machado is aiming to return to the Orioles lineup around next weekend against the Minnesota Twins.
Assuming Hardy is able to stay in the lineup on a regular basis going forward, the rest of the infield figures to be some combination of Ryan Flaherty, Steve Lombardozzi, Jonathan Schoop, and possibly even Jemile Weeks for the next week or so. If Nick Markakis continues to see time at first in Davis’ absence, Nelson Cruz will likely have to play more innings in RF and be used less at DH, leaving that role to Delmon Young.
With two of the biggest producers in the lineup injured right now and the starting rotation continuing to struggle, the Orioles will have to fight to remain above the .500 mark for the time being. None of the starting pitchers have been very good recently.
Chris Tillman, who starting the year only giving up three ER in his first three starts, got hammered for 7 ER in 5 2/3 innings against the Toronto Blue Jays last time out. However, luckily for the Orioles, closer Tommy Hunter and primary set-up man Darren O’Day have continued their excellent performance early on.
With the offensive injuries the Orioles now have, OF/DH Nelson Cruz and C Matt Wieters must continue to carry the load offensively. Cruz, who hit another home run on Sunday, is now up to a total of 7 home runs and 25 RBI while batting around .290. Wieters has also been a main cog in the lineup in April, hitting .338 with 4 dingers.
If J.J. Hardy can come back from his early season injury problems and Adam Jones can get his bat going in CF, the Orioles may be able to stay within fighting distance of the division leading NY Yankees until Davis and Machado get back and the offense can fire on all cylinders.