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Chris Davis benched by Orioles after 3 strikeouts in opener

March 30, 2019
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Baltimore Orioles' Chris Davis walks off the field after batting practice before a baseball game against the New York Yankees, Saturday, March 30, 2019, in New York. Davis was dropped from the starting lineup just one game into the season after going hitless on Thursday against the Yankees. (AP Photo/Julie Jacobson)

NEW YORK (AP) — It didn’t take long for Chris Davis’ first benching of the season.

The first baseman with the $161 million contract was out of the Baltimore Orioles’ starting lineup for a 5-3 win over the New York Yankees on Saturday, two days after going 0 for 3 with three strikeouts in the opener.

Rookie manager Brandon Hyde started right-handed-hitting Trey Mancini at first base against left-hander James Paxton rather than the left-handed-hitting Davis, and right-handed-hitting Renato Nunez was the designated hitter. Mancini was 1 for 4 after getting three hits in the opening 7-2 loss, and Nunez was hitless in four at-bats.

“Paxton is a tough left-handed pitcher, obviously,” Hyde said. “I want to play as many guys early as I can, also.”

A two-time home run champion entering the fourth season of a seven-year contract, the 27-year-old Davis hit .168 last season, the lowest for a qualified batter in major league history. He had 16 homers, 49 RBIs and 192 strikeouts last year, and was benched in September following a 1-for-37 skid.

Davis hit .144 against lefties last season and .178 against righties. New York started right-hander Masahiro Tanaka in the opener and scheduled left-hander J.A. Happ for Sunday.

Mancini batted .225 against lefties last year, .249 versus righties.

“I see Chris being part of our lineup,” Hyde said. “This was just a day I felt like would be a good day for him to take a breather. I’m trying to get him off to a good start, and I want Chris to feel good.”

Paxton usually was more effective against righties than lefties last season. Right-handed batters hit .202 against him and lefties .330.

“It’s not going to be a set where if a left-hander is starting, these guys are sitting,” Hyde said. “It’s going to be more matchups and splits.”

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