6/15/2013 4:01 P.M. ET
Opposite-field homer good sign for slugging Davis
By Derek Wetmore / MLB.com
BALTIMORE -- Chris Davis is leading the league in home runs after he hit his 22nd Friday night. He's also the leader in slugging percentage and on-base plus slugging. Last season, the first baseman didn't hit his 22nd home run until Aug. 25.
Some have wondered if Davis will be able to sustain this pace, which has him on track for 135 RBIs and 52 home runs. He may or may not be able to maintain that level of production, but his home run to left-center field Friday -- hit the opposite way -- was a good sign for the Orioles.
"Yeah, it was definitely good to stay through one the other way," Davis said. "I felt like the last couple weeks I was really pulling off pitches and coming around the baseball."
Some teams have shifted him as an extreme pull hitter lately. The second baseman at times stands in short right field and the shortstop plays on the second-base side of the bag.
So getting hits the other way has been important for Davis' on-base percentage and also his power numbers. He hits the majority of his home runs to center field and right field, but he has shown the ability to drive the ball out to left field a handful of times this year, too.
"I think Chris knows he doesn't have to get into pull mode to be effective," manager Buck Showalter said. "That's been good for him."
Friday's home run off Ryan Dempster could be a good sign for the Orioles if it means Davis is staying through the ball and has fully emerged from his mini-slump, in which he was 0-for-16 for a stretch.
"Something I worked on a couple days ago, trying to get back to really driving the ball and hitting it where it's pitched, so it was nice to hit that one [Friday]," Davis said.
Roberts may begin rehab assignment after road trip
BALTIMORE -- Second baseman Brian Roberts, who is on the 60-day disabled list with a right hamstring injury, will join the Orioles on their road trip to Detroit and Toronto next week and then might begin a rehab assignment.
"Brian's going to go with us to Detroit, probably Toronto, and hopefully after that road trip we'll be talking about going out [on a rehab assignment]," manager Buck Showalter said. "We'll see. We'll see how that goes."
Although it's a small step in his recovery, he's taken batting practice on the field this week at Camden Yards. He traveled north with the team from Sarasota, Fla., for this homestand when the Orioles returned from a series with the Rays.
"They just wanted to make sure that I was going to be doing baseball activities. I didn't need to be stuck here doing rehab and stuff like that," Roberts said.
Roberts said even small steps like on-field batting practice constitutes a step forward, but he's still not ready to play baseball just yet.
"No, I can't go play yet," Roberts said. "I still have some progressions to go through, especially running. I haven't gotten to the point where I'm doing real explosive running, so we still have a little bit of time."
Showalter said he trusts Roberts and special assistant Terry Crowley to determine when Roberts is healthy enough to play baseball and can start a rehab stint.
Roberts said he's not ready to put a timetable on his full recovery, but Showalter said that he hopes Roberts is ready to go when outfielder Nolan Reimold returns from his rehab assignment, which begins Tuesday at Double-A Bowie.
Machado not paying attention to red-hot hitting streak
BALTIMORE -- Manny Machado had three more hits Friday night, including two doubles, which padded his lead in both categories. The third baseman leads the Majors in doubles (30) and hits (95), and he has found success lately hitting the ball to the opposite field.
The 20-year-old is riding a 12-game hitting streak and he's the fourth player since 1969 to have two hitting streaks of 11 games or more before turning 21.
However, Machado said he tries to avoid looking at the leaderboard so he can focus on the task at hand.
"I just try to avoid it," Machado said. "I just go out there and play my game. How I've been doing it is you just go out there and just play. You forget about everything else and help this team try to win, and that's what we've been doing, having fun here and playing."
He's been adept at keeping his hands inside the ball and driving balls to right field when pitchers throw on the outside part of the plate.
"He's tough to defend," manager Buck Showalter said. "When people try to play guys where he's going to hit -- he's tough to pitch to, he's tough to defend.
Machado recently has advanced runners by hitting behind them. So with a runner on second base, he can hit it to the right side of the infield to move him up, or as Showalter prefers, hit it to the outfield to drive in the run. Early in the season, Machado might bunt in that situation, but he hasn't done that recently.
"It's just the situation of the game. We're trying to get that runner over," Machado said. "Especially with no outs, you're trying to get that guy to third base so [Nick Markakis] or Adam [Jones] or whoever's behind me that day is going to have to drive them in. So it just depends on the situation how I'm going to approach it. And basically just stick to your guns, which is your routine."
Showalter said that in the tunnel after at-bats where Machado was unsuccessful, the manager doesn't see the reaction of a typical 20-year-old.
"He's got a lot of maturity about him," Showalter said. "A lot of guys try to get big when things get a little challenging. He gets shorter, which is really good".
• Wei-Yin Chen's pitching session in Sarasota, Fla., went well Saturday, Showalter said. Chen was scheduled to throw 35 pitches from a full mound for the first time since straining his oblique in Minnesota. Showalter said he has a schedule mapped out for Chen's rehab assignment, but he will discuss the rehab schedule with general manager Dan Duquette before before making any final decision.
• Jason Hammel (virus) received an IV on Friday and was not in the clubhouse Friday or Saturday. Showalter said if the team doctor thinks Hammel is past the contagious part of the virus, he'll be back Sunday. At this point, it seems unlikely Hammel would miss his scheduled Monday start in Detroit, but that remains a possibility.
• Miguel Gonzalez's wife is scheduled to give birth Wednesday. As of now, it appears Gonzalez will make his scheduled start Sunday, but obviously that could change quickly. Showalter said they have a plan in place for if Gonzalez needs to be scratched Sunday to be with his wife.
Derek Wetmore is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.