Chris Davis back in Orioles’ lineup Sunday after missing 15 days with a strained left oblique

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Orioles slugger Chris Davis is back in Baltimore’s starting lineup on Sunday afternoon against the Astros after spending the minimum 15 days on the disabled list with a left oblique strain. He is batting third and starting at first base as the O’s try to finish off a three-game sweep of the visiting Astros.

Davis was off to a relatively slow start before the injury, batting .250 with a .754 OPS, two home runs, and 13 RBI in 22 games. He had a 1.004 OPS, 53 homers, and 138 RBI in 160 games last season.

The Orioles are currently 20-14 with a 1 1/2 game lead in the American League East standings.

Matt Wieters was placed on the 15-day disabled list in a corresponding move Sunday to open a spot on the active roster for Davis. Wieters continues to have issues with his throwing elbow.

The Nationals expect Bryce Harper to test free agency

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Earlier this week at the Winter Meetings, Scott Boras said that he and the Washington Nationals had had preliminary discussions about a contract extension for Bryce Harper. Harper, of course, can become a free agent following the 2018 season and is widely expected to command the largest contract in baseball history.

While that may have given some Nationals fans hope that no other team would get the chance to bid on him, the Nationals are of the view that they have no shot to sign Harper before he at least tests the free agent market. From USA Today’s Bob Nightengale:

A lot of this seems like mutual posturing, doesn’t it? Boras trying to make it appear as though the he and Harper are giving the Nats a fair hearing and the Nats trying to make it appear as though, no matter what they do, Harper is going to hit the market. I tend to believe, personally, that Boras and Harper are hellbent on testing the market, but it’s possible that there is some number that the Nats can offer to head that off, right? Maybe?

Either way: big year ahead for Harper.