About 90 minutes before Tuesday’s first pitch, a lineup change for the Orioles was announced.
Usually when that happens, it’s bad news for the Orioles (or the opposing team) because it means there has been an injury and subsequent scratch.
But not on Tuesday: The change was purely positional – yet still a bit of a head-scratcher.
Mark Trumbo, who was starting in right field, was moved to designated hitter. Steve Pearce, who was the DH, was moved to first base, and Chris Davis, who had started 111 games at first and none in the outfield this year, was switched to right.
We don’t get to talk to the manager so close to game time, so it leaves the media to speculate as to the reason why.
Here’s the best guess: Davis, who started 29 games in right in 2015, is considered a slightly better outfield defender than Trumbo, who has started 68 times this year in right (twice as many as any other Oriole), even if Davis hasn’t played there this year.
Pearce, who has started three games in right for the Orioles since his trade from the Tampa Bay Rays on Aug. 1, is dealing with a right forearm strain, and is not being asked to play the outfield for now. He’s a solid defender at first base, though, and has played that position for the Orioles in past years.
And the thought is that Orioles manager Buck Showalter probably wanted a little stronger defense in right with a Boston Red Sox lineup that has four left-handed hitters and a switch-hitter. Those guys are more prone to pull the ball to right field.
Of course, after the game we may learn that Trumbo is dealing with something physical and is just getting off his feet for a day.
But, for now, the best guess is that Showalter sees this as a slightly better defensive alignment — that Davis over Trumbo in right is a bigger improvement than Davis over Pearce at first.