5/3/2014 7:20 P.M. ET
Hunter showing consistency in new role as O's closer
By Brittany Ghiroli / MLB.com
MINNEAPOLIS -- So far, so good for Tommy Hunter as the Orioles' closer.
Hunter -- who picked up his eighth save in nine attempts on Friday night -- has pitched in the team's last three games, an encouraging step for the first-time full-time closer.
"He's -- I don't want to say infancy stage -- but little by little. He's getting it," manager Buck Showalter said. "Tommy pitched last night. I think one thing, talking to [former closer] Jimmy [Johnson], certain days he knew he wasn't carrying his normal stuff because of rest. And he pitched a little more those days.
"Some days, Jimmy could go out there and overpower you with the sinker, but sometimes he had to pitch. And Tommy, he had a crisp fastball last night when he needed it, but he really had to pitch. That was impressive. I thought that was good stuff for him."
Hunter, named the O's closer after the offseason trade of Johnson, has gone 1-0 with a 2.53 ERA in his first 12 games. He has 10 strikeouts over 10 2/3 innings, allowing three earned runs on 12 hits and two walks (one intentional). With the ninth inning one of the Orioles' greatest concerns coming into the season, Hunter has stepped up in the early part of the season and provided some stability.
"He doesn't get into what his title is," Showalter said earlier this week. "It's a process. I don't think we are far enough into it. He's got a lot of respect for the job and he's seen some good ones do it, whether it be Texas or here. He's presented himself well, all things considered.
"It's a difficult job. And I think he presents some things; I'd use him now, and then as we get into the season for an out in the eighth inning. Tommy takes the right things seriously. He's pretty approachable, very amicable, but when it's time, Tommy knows the job description, he knows what he's got to bring. And the season will tell us if he can do that."
Davis makes progress from left oblique injury
MINNEAPOLIS -- Orioles first baseman Chris Davis continues to progress favorably from a left oblique strain, as he was out at Target Field prior to Baltimore's game against the Twins doing some exercises and came through that step with no issues.
"It's still ... I don't want to say in the infant stage, but it's good he's gotten to that point," manager Buck Showalter said of Davis, who was officially placed on the disabled list Sunday, retroactive to April 26. "I've seen some obliques at this stage that were not at that point this quickly. He doesn't have any discomfort at the point of injury. We'll see."
Davis did some resistance band work with strength and conditioning coach Joe Hogarty Saturday, including some light running drills and stretching. The O's have been encouraged with how Davis has responded since getting a pair of platelet-rich plasma injections to help the healing process on Monday.
"He's doing some things a little earlier than some guys do with that injury," Showalter said. "That's kind of good to see. He's been in the pool doing some movement."
Davis is eligible to come off the DL on May 11.
Santana's debut rescheduled for Monday
MINNEAPOLIS -- Johan Santana's extended spring debut was rained out in Sarasota, Fla., on Saturday morning, so he will pitch on Monday instead.
The timing is pretty good for Orioles manager Buck Showalter, who plans on going to watch with the O's off on Monday and in the area for a series against the Rays.
"I think it's still a little early, but he's had no setbacks," Showalter said of factoring Santana into the O's plans. "His velocity is inching up. I'm really looking forward to getting my eyes on him, seeing the arm swing. When you've seen a guy for years, you kind of know what it looks like. I think I'll probably watch some tape of him before I go over there ... to get a visual."
Santana, who topped out at 87 mph in his last simulated game, is coming off of his second shoulder surgery and could be an option for the O's in June.
Brittany Ghiroli is a reporter for MLB.com. Read her blog, Britt's Bird Watch, and follow her on Facebook and Twitter @britt_ghiroli. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.