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.”