Chris Davis looking forward to the games beginning
It’s been one-hundred-and-forty-six days, but for the first time since September 30, 2018, the Baltimore Orioles will play an actual game today against an actual team during an actual schedule of major league baseball games. Sure, it’s just a Spring Training exhibition game that counts only towards setting a final roster, but we stride one step closer to Opening Day, which is now a mere 33 days away.
In a few hours, the gates to Ed Smith Stadium will open, ushering in a brand-new season of Orioles baseball. The team that lines up along the first base line will be entirely different than the one that lined on this day last year. Gone is Manny Machado, off to spend the next decade in San Diego. Jonathan Schoop will be written about in Minnesota. Kevin Gausman, Brad Brach and Darren O’Day will be looking to get Atlanta back to the postseason and Adam Jones is still hoping he lands a job before Spring Training drags on too much longer.
Still, out of all the new faces set to take the field this Spring, there’s plenty of familiar names remaining to talk about. Chris Davis, for example, will have eyes all over him today as the slate of 33 exhibition games gets under way at 1:05. Posting a historically bad .168 batting average in 128 games last season, Davis has put last season behind him and is ready to focus on 2019.
Last month at FanFest, Davis addressed how quickly he was able to put the horrid season behind him. “It was a lot quicker than I thought it was going to be,” he said. Speaking with MASN’s Roch Kubatko, Davis said, “Once the season ended, I kind of took a deep breath and let it go.”
Davis was criticized for not arriving to camp until three days after pitchers and catchers reported, however, he actually was in Sarasota, Florida the entire time. Having come down with an illness shortly before reporting, he was hindered from arriving early. “I feel pretty crappy now,” Davis told Roch Kubatko.
“Aside from the sickness, I feel really good physically. I felt really good coming in here. That was kind of my plan of attack, to get down here a little bit early, get outside, start moving around. The weather’s not outstanding in Texas right now. It’s been cold and rainy for a while. I just wanted to get down here and start moving around, and then obviously after having the flu, apparently what I have now is bronchitis. I found that out this morning.”
But now that he’s arrived in camp and is starting to settle in, it’s nothing but forward thinking for the now 12-year veteran. He’s shaken the illness and is looking forward to getting the season rolling. “I feel good,” Davis told the media yesterday morning. “I feel like I’m starting to get a little more comfortable, starting to get some rhythm and my timing’s starting to come around a little bit. I’m looking forward to the games. Putting some of the work in the offseason to use and kind of seeing where I’m at.”
Of course, Davis speaks of the work he started putting in back in mid-December in McKinney, Texas. He’s laser-focused on bringing back the swing that helped him lead the league in home runs in 2013 and 2015. Now that the first game of Spring Training is upon us, Davis is excited to get on the field and play another team. “It’s exciting,” he said. “This is something you look forward to all offseason. It’s something you prepare yourself for and really, once the new year hits, you start getting a little antsy and a little jumpy and you want to get out there and compete and get the juices going again.”
Davis’ struggles at the plate in recent years have become all too familiar with Orioles fans. In his last 700 games, Davis is 13 strikeouts shy of 1,000 in 2,906 plate appearances. Or in other words, 34% of his plate appearances over the last five years have a “K,” next to them on the scorecard. As mentioned earlier, one of his biggest focuses this spring is getting his timing back, hoping to prevent another 200+ strikeout season.
“The biggest thing for me is just to make sure I feel like I’m ready as far as my timing is concerned at the plate,” Davis told the media. “I want to make sure that I’m seeing the ball well and attacking aggressively in the strike zone I think that’s going to be – obviously – big for me and big for the team.”
“We have a lot of young guys around here, we have a lot of new guys [and] a lot of guys that are competing and trying to make this team. I think anything that I can do to pickup the slack and help those guys out, it’s just going to work out better for everybody.”
Working with an entirely new staff – with a new analytical approach to help develop players – is coming along nicely for players in camp, Davis included. “I love them,” said Davis of his new coaches working to get him back to the hitter he once was. “They’re a lot of fun. They really care, not only about the team in general, but individual guys, developing players [and] helping guys reach their potential. Even helping a veteran guy take that next step in his career.”
“We have a lot of fun. We joke around and it’s pretty loose, but at the same time, there’s a very, very strong emphasis on competition and going out there, attacking the game and not playing on our heels, but being aggressive and making other teams adjust to us. I’m fired up, I’m excited to get to work with them and see what the season has for us.”