(AP) — Many questioned the Baltimore Orioles’ offensive capabilities given their personnel losses and key injuries, but Travis Snider helped quiet those concerns on opening day.
Chris Davis will be looking to provide some additional pop in his season debut Tuesday night against the Tampa Bay Rays.
Coming off their first division title in 17 years, the Orioles face the tough task of replacing departed free agents Nelson Cruz, who hit 40 home runs, and Nick Markakis, whose 177 hits ranked second on the team.
They’re also without Matt Wieters and J.J. Hardy to open the season.
Snider, who recorded a career-high 85 hits for Pittsburgh in 2014, was 3 for 4 with two RBIs and threw out a runner at the plate in a 6-2 victory in St. Petersburg on Monday.
“I don’t know what else you could ask the guy to do. He had a great first day,” manager Buck Showalter said.
Baltimore hit three homers and is hoping Davis can add some power, too, after he served the last of his 25-game suspension for using amphetamines without a prescription. Davis hit 26 homers in 2014, though he batted just .196 in 127 games after hitting .286 with 53 home runs a year earlier.
Davis batted .250 this spring with three home runs and 12 RBIs.
“I think just mentally, I didn’t really know where to go,” Davis told the team’s official website. “I’ve never really been in that situation before, but this year, I’m a lot more relaxed and I almost kind of have that chip back on my shoulder.”
Taking the hill for Baltimore will be left-hander Wei-Yin Chen, who threw six shutout innings against the Rays on Sept. 5 but didn’t record a decision in a 3-0 loss. Chen is 3-4 with a 3.26 ERA in 13 career starts versus Tampa Bay.
He was 0-1 this spring despite a 2.45 ERA across five outings.
“Last spring, my off-speed pitches were pretty good at first but it wasn’t all that consistent,” he said through a translator.
“This year, I was trying to fill it out, and over this spring I felt better and better in mastering it. I talked to my teammates and coaches about how to throw it and how to grip it. And I think over this spring it’s been getting better and better.”
Rookie Tampa Bay manager Kevin Cash gives the ball to Nathan Karns, who appears to be a stopgap in the rotation with Alex Cobb, Matt Moore and Drew Smyly sidelined by injuries.
Karns, making his sixth career start, had mixed results in two starts for Tampa Bay last season. He gave up two hits over seven innings in a 1-0 win at Toronto on Sept. 12, then gave up six runs – including five off three homers – over five-plus innings in a 10-5 loss to the Chicago White Sox on Sept. 21.
Davis is 2 for 2 against Karns with a home run but is 4 for his last 41 against the Rays, though three of those hits were homers.
Evan Longoria, who homered Monday, was 5 for 12 with three doubles against Chen in 2014.