Early Opening Day thoughts: Davis at leadoff; Gentry starting; four DFA'd including Liranzo - BaltimoreBaseball.com
Dan Connolly

Early Opening Day thoughts: Davis at leadoff; Gentry starting; four DFA’d including Liranzo

Photo credit: Jonathan Dyer/USA Today Sports

So, 2018 Orioles fans, you have a new leadoff hitter.

Chris Davis.

Let that soak in for a moment.

The 6-foot-4, 230-pound Big Fella who has twice led the league in homers is leading off. It will be the first time Davis has batted leadoff in his entire major league career, spanning 1,168 games.

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He also becomes the third first baseman in the past 20 years to leadoff on Opening Day, joining Darin Erstad and John Jaso, according to baseball-reference.com.

When that fact was relayed to him, Davis threw his hands up in that air in celebration. He’s liking this decision – this experiment, anyway.

Orioles manager Buck Showalter is committing to Davis as his leadoff man for Thursday only. It could happen again, it could happen throughout the season – or it may not.

I’d bet on this not being a consistent thing.

Here’s what Showalter had to say about that today when his Opening Day lineup was unveiled.

“It’s maybe unconventional, but Nick Markakis (leading off) wasn’t conventional, Manny wasn’t conventional. …We’ll see where it takes us. It’s kind of like the journey of the season, kind of take it as it goes,” Showalter said. “It’s definitely a today thing. We will see what tomorrow brings. I talked to Chris and Scott (Coolbaugh) a little bit. It’s something that everyone felt this was a good way to start. Chris is a very important part of our club, potentially, and I hope this kind of helps him. Sometimes you have to give a new toy, something that signifies a new start.

Orioles lineup; Gentry starts

Here is the Orioles’ Opening Day lineup against the Minnesota Twins: Davis 3, Machado 6, Schoop 4, Jones 8, Mancini 7, Beckham 5, Alvarez DH, Gentry 9, Joseph 2. Bundy 1.

Besides Davis’ spot, the biggest surprise is the inclusion of 34-year-old reserve outfielder and defensive specialist Craig Gentry in the starting lineup, hitting eighth and starting in right field.

The assumption is that left-handed-hitting Colby Rasmus would get the start, but Rasmus is 1-for-11 with six strikeouts against Minnesota starter Jake Odorizzi. Gentry is 2-for-4 in limited action versus Odorizzi.

Normally, a right-handed pitcher like Odorizzi would face a stable of left-handers – such as Rasmus – but Showalter said Odorizzi is one of the biggest “reverse-split” pitchers in the majors, meaning right-handers often fare better than lefties against him.

So, Gentry gets the call and Danny Valencia and Rasmus will comprise a pretty good bench for Showalter today.

Four players DFA’d, including Liranzo

To make room for several non-roster invitees on the 40-man roster, the Orioles had to make a series of moves before Thursday’s game.

They put Mark Trumbo (quad) and Gabriel Ynoa (shin) on the 10-day disabled list and designated pitchers Alec Asher, Stefan Crichton, Michael Kelly and Jesus Liranzo for assignment.

All four could end up in the minors with the Orioles if they pass through waivers. None had been designated previously. Crichton and Asher pitched for the Orioles last year, but were demoted in a numbers crunch this spring. Kelly was added to the 40-man roster in December, but was given little chance to make the Opening Day roster.

The biggest surprise – if you call it that – was the designation of Liranzo, a 23-year-old with a big arm and mid-90s fastball who has had trouble harnessing his control over the years. Last season, Liranzo had a 4.85 ERA in 31 games (12 starts), walking 43 and striking out 75 in 65 innings.

One good thing about the Liranzo decision: It means the Orioles feel like they have more polished pitchers in the system and aren’t sticking with a high-ceiling pitcher who has struggled in multiple opportunities. In that sense, it says something about the organization’s improved quality in the minors.

Showalter said the Orioles are hopeful all four will return to the organization.

“Our hope is that they clear and put them back in the system. … I’m hoping they clear and they continue the system because we all like them,” Showalter said. It’s more about the people we had to add and we knew somebody was going to have to come off at some point, but we felt like we took the best team we could, you know, short term and long term and with that comes a price.”

22 Comments

22 Comments

  1. AlaskanOsFan

    March 29, 2018 at 2:21 pm

    I thought Beckham was good at the top last year…wrong assumption?

    • Dan Connolly

      March 29, 2018 at 3:02 pm

      Sputtered at the end. Not your typical leadoff guy either.

  2. AlaskanOsFan

    March 29, 2018 at 2:22 pm

    Os winning 6-3…Manny/Trey go deep and Bundy w 7ks in 6inn

    • jkneps63

      March 29, 2018 at 2:26 pm

      I like it! Hope you are correct!

    • Dan Connolly

      March 29, 2018 at 3:03 pm

      I’ll check back on it.

      • AlaskanOsFan

        March 29, 2018 at 7:02 pm

        Jusssst a bit off, although Bundy was on point! Nothing like saying Walkoff! while in a meeting..haha.

  3. jkneps63

    March 29, 2018 at 2:26 pm

    I am starting to prefer college baseball over the MLB just as I prefer college basketball over the NBA. Seem professional sports corrupt the true nature of the game…oh well, it’s opening day, not time to get all theoretical…GO O’s…may Crush hit four homers today!!!

    • Dan Connolly

      March 29, 2018 at 3:04 pm

      And you can always stick with us and read our local college corner weekly. We have ya covered.

      • jkneps63

        March 29, 2018 at 6:34 pm

        I am UVA alum, this season looks pretty sad for them currently.

  4. Dblack2508

    March 29, 2018 at 2:30 pm

    Good thing they waited until the twelfth hour to dfa them. Do you think all four will be back? Btw the weather is great at Opacy, today !

    • Dan Connolly

      March 29, 2018 at 3:05 pm

      I’d imagine only Liranzo might get claimed. And maybe not him.

  5. Booged and Powelled

    March 29, 2018 at 4:28 pm

    Lots of pitchers like Liranzo who will never harness their stuff so Im not gonna lose sleep if he is claimed…

    • Dan Connolly

      March 30, 2018 at 12:57 am

      Understood.

    • Jbigle1

      March 30, 2018 at 3:15 pm

      Sure, lots of pitchers like Liranzo never get it together but the ones that do are the guys you need. A guy who can pitch in AAA but just doesn’t have the high octane stuff or ceiling isn’t an exciting major leaguer. Glad to see we let Asher go as well. Ynoa is hurt but he would’ve been a smarter choice in my opinion. Out of options and will likely get DFA’d sooner rather than later.

  6. MumboTrumbo

    March 29, 2018 at 6:00 pm

    So, at least we know Brach is consistently bad like he was last year. Sad.

    • Birdman

      March 29, 2018 at 6:15 pm

      O’Day threw only 12 pitches in the 8th inning and looked very sharp – don’t understand why Buck didn’t use him in the 9th.

      • jkneps63

        March 29, 2018 at 6:33 pm

        Brain fart like the Wild Card game

    • Dan Connolly

      March 30, 2018 at 12:59 am

      Come on guys. First, Brach was not consistently bad last year. Not as good as he was in 2016 or as good as Britton, but he was still a pretty good major league pitcher. Two, you want to use traditionally a one-inning pitcher for two innings on Opening Day???? I need to shut the Tap Room down earlier.

      • Jbigle1

        March 30, 2018 at 3:17 pm

        Lol. Brach is a very good set up man. Orioles fans are spoiled after watching Zach close games for us all these years. I don’t think brach is a closer though. Some guys are better suited for the 7th and 8th. Givens is the guy for me.

  7. jkneps63

    March 29, 2018 at 6:30 pm

    New Hitting Coach please…4 hits, 3 BB (2 IBB), 13 Ks, GiDP with bases juiced and 1 out in bottom of 10th…very sad but same ole same ole. OBP 0.237 or 0.194 if you exclude the IBBs

    • Dan Connolly

      March 30, 2018 at 1:01 am

      JK: you are gonna hear this 100 times from me if you write these kinds of posts consistently. Reee—lax. It is Game 1. And they won. Plus, it’s not the hitting coach. It’s the hitters. This is what you are gonna get. That’s the personnel they have.

    • Jbigle1

      March 30, 2018 at 3:19 pm

      Who in our lineup will take a walk? Alvarez? That’s it. You can’t teach an old dog new tricks. We don’t take walks. It was an obvious flaw from day one. Rasmus May draw a walk or two but he won’t help the K numbers any.

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