Orioles first baseman Davis undergoes season-ending hip surgery

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BALTIMORE — The 2021 season is over before it ever started for Orioles first baseman Chris Davis.

Now we again ask whether he’s played his final game in Baltimore.

General manager Mike Elias announced the two-time home-run champion underwent arthroscopic surgery to repair the labrum in his left hip in Dallas on Wednesday. The recovery from a baseball standpoint typically takes four to five months, which would allow Davis to be fully ready for the start of spring training next February. Currently in the penultimate season of his seven-year, $161 million contract, the 35-year-old had just two at-bats in the Grapefruit League opener on Feb. 28 and didn’t play again, beginning the season on the 60-day injured list with what was described as a lower back strain.

“This is something that we had come to in conjunction with him and working through some of the discomfort and pain he was experiencing during spring training in his lower back and hip region,” Elias said. “Ultimately, this was decided upon as the course of action that will hopefully be curative, but there will be a somewhat lengthy recovery for Chris.”

That Davis will be entering the final year of his disastrous contract next spring makes one wonder why the rebuilding Orioles would bother to continue its on-field relationship with an aging slugger who’s performed at a below-replacement level since 2017, but ownership has been unwilling to move on from the once-popular player who led the majors in home runs in both 2013 and 2015 and signed a franchise-record contract to remain in Baltimore in 2016. Davis appeared in just 16 games in last year’s abbreviated campaign, batting just .115 with three doubles, no homers, and a .337 on-base plus slugging percentage while spending much of the season on the IL with knee tendinitis.

With Davis out of the roster picture to begin the 2021 season, the returning Trey Mancini has become the primary first baseman with rookie Ryan Mountcastle receiving some starts there as well.

Over his last 929 plate appearances dating back to the start of 2018, Davis has batted .169 with 28 home runs, 86 runs batted in, 348 strikeouts, and a .550 OPS. That stretch of time included a record-setting 0-for-54 slump that received national attention at the start of the 2019 season and a dugout spat with manager Brandon Hyde later that year that drew additional negative reaction. Davis has been worth minus-5.7 wins above replacement since the start of 2017, easily making his contract one of the very worst in major league history.

Acquired by the Orioles in 2011, Davis ranks sixth on the club’s career list for long balls and first in strikeouts.