Newly acquired Davis ready to bat in unfamiliar position for Pirates


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BALTIMORE -- Manager Clint Hurdle spent part of his off day this week tinkering with the Pirates lineup.

He came up with one change no manager before him ever has: Ike Davis in the two-hole.

"His comment was funny. He said, 'I always felt like I could hit second,' " said Hurdle. "I think he wanted to say nobody was crazy enough to ever do it. Nobody ever did."

The Pirates will.

Hurdle tried to roll out a lineup Tuesday with Jose Tabata leading off, followed by Davis batting second, Andrew McCutchen hitting third, and Pedro Alvarez batting cleanup.

Hurdle said Wednesday -- after consecutive rainouts against the Baltimore Orioles at Oriole Park at Camden Yards -- that he plans to "roll with it" moving forward in a doubleheader starting at 4:05 p.m. today and beyond.

Sliding Davis up in the order is as much about setting the table for McCutchen, said Hurdle, as it is about putting together the lineup to go right-left-right-left.

Tabata and McCutchen bat right-handed, and Davis and Alvarez left-handed.

"I like the on-base [percentage]. He'll take a walk. He can drive a runner in from first," Hurdle said. "I like the way the lineup sets up. There's protection, especially against any team with two left-handed relievers.

"Now if they want to go left on Ike, McCutchen is behind him. If they want to go left for Ike, McCutchen and Pedro, so be it. They've got to get through McCutchen."

Davis generally has been a middle-of-the-order batter because of his power and was hitting sixth in the order for the Pirates since being acquired in a trade with the New York Mets.

"It's not about speed, obviously," said Hurdle. "But with Tabata now at the top, I anticipate we're going to give [Starling] Marte some time to find his way back [to the leadoff spot]. It's about a guy that can drive in a run from first base and a guy that can get on base in front of McCutchen."

The Pirates have batted Travis Snider, Russell Martin and Neil Walker in the No. 2 position this season.

A career .240 hitter with a .334 on-base percentage, Davis said he feels like he might be a good fit there, but he is hitless in his past 14 at-bats.

"It's like [Nos.] 1 and 2 are the only spots I haven't batted in," said Davis. "I get on base. Two-hole is usually about getting on base for Cutch and the No. 4 hitter.

"I don't think it's that big of a deal, I just hit a couple batters earlier. I'm excited. It means I get to come up more, and hopefully I'll score a lot of runs with Cutch driving me in."

As for the stolen bases normally expected from that spot?

"I don't know about that," Davis said. "I can score on a double in the gap. That's all you need."

The remainder of the lineup had Gaby Sanchez batting as the designated hitter, Walker batting sixth, Marte seventh, Tony Sanchez eighth, and Jordy Mercer ninth.

Weather looking good

The Pirates-Orioles game was called off just before 3 p.m. Wednesday as soaking rain continued for a second day in a row and prompted flash flood warnings in the region.

The forecast for today appears to be much better.

The Pirates will send Charlie Morton to the mound in the first game and Brandon Cumpton will start the second.

It had been seven years since the Pirates were previously rained out in back-to-back games, dating to April 14-15, 2007, when they were rained out at PNC Park against the San Francisco Giants.

Liriano set to come back

Francisco Liriano is on track to make his next scheduled start Saturday against the Toronto Blue Jays after leaving his start Saturday in St. Louis with dizziness, flu-like symptoms and a bloody nose.

"I feel normal now. I don't think it was something too serious," said Liriano. "Just got dizzy and a little dehydrated."

■ Games: Pirates vs. Baltimore Orioles in a doubleheader, Camden Yards, Baltimore.

■ When: 4:05 p.m.

■ TV: Root Sports.

Jenn Menendez: jmenendez@post-gazette.com and Twitter @JennMenendez.


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