Once a ballplayer signs a huge deal, there’s going to be a question as to whether the pressure of living up to those expectations will get to him – whether he’ll try to do too much to justify the contract and end up struggling.
We’ve all been wondering whether Chris Davis, who undoubtedly cares deeply about his profession, will be one of those guys after inking that $161 million deal this winter.
It’s been two regular season games, you don’t get a smaller sample size than that (except for, well, one game). But Orioles manager Buck Showalter felt this spring that Davis wasn’t carrying too much responsibility on his massive shoulders. And that’s been carried into this week.
“I noticed very early on, I think Chris seems to be in a rhythm about a lot of things in his life. You always wonder how things like that are going to affect people, but, early on in the spring, you could tell he was the right kind of comfortable,” Showalter said. “He had a great spring all the way around, work-wise, engaged and everything. He’s been in a good place since he got to spring training. He just seems to be in a good rhythm about his life. I’m real proud of him.”
Davis was hitless in Monday’s opener, but walked twice and scored the winning run in the ninth. On Wednesday, he had two hits including his first homer of the year. If he is putting extra pressure on himself, we haven’t seen it yet. And that would be a huge development for the Orioles, who certainly could use Davis repeating his performance of last year.
“I think the expectations we have for ourselves every season are so high that the pressure’s kind of self-inflicted. I think that every guy in here goes into the offseason with something in mind to get better at, to work hard on, to come to spring training prepared,” he said. “We expect a lot of each other. The biggest thing for me is that I know that I’m going to be here for a number of years and am trying to do everything to try and help this team win a championship.”
The walking Orioles?
Much has been made of the Orioles’ high-strikeout and low-walk rates in past years.
So far this season, the Orioles have fanned 16 times in 17 innings. But they’ve also walked 11 times, and that’s certainly worth mentioning.
“So far, it’s been good. And Minnesota’s an organization that habitually, through the years, has always been guys who don’t walk people,” Showalter said. “So it’s a real tribute to our guys the last two games. But we have 160 more. So far, so good.”
Have the Orioles’ hitters made a conscious effort to walk more?
“I think it’s more of a conscious effort to swing at good pitches,” Davis said. “We know the power potential this lineup has, the amount of damage that we are capable of doing. But we know we have to go out there and swing at good pitches.”
More on Kim from teammates
Adam Jones wasn’t the only Oriole to say he wasn’t happy with some Camden Yards fans booing Hyun Soo Kim during Monday’s Opening Day introductions.
Closer Zach Britton said he understood fans have a right to boo, but he was “disappointed” that some did so before Kim has had a chance to play before the home crowd.
“Let him play, give him a chance. That’s all we are asking as his teammates,” Britton said. “Give him a chance, we know he is going to be a good player for us too, so we are supporting him.”
The fans, obviously, were upset that Kim chose to enact the clause in his two-year, $7 million contract that prohibited him from being sent to the minors without his permission. The Orioles had asked him to go to Triple-A Norfolk because he struggled in the spring, the but the former Doosan Bears star chose to stay in the majors.
“Just put yourself in his shoes, it’s a tough spot to be in. He negotiated that contract, he is doing everything that’s within his rights to do,” said reliever Darren O’Day. “So it’s unfortunate that the fans booed him. They are great fans, very knowledgeable, they love their team and I think that’s where it came from. They want what’s best for the team. But we’ve all talked to him, he’s fine. We let him know we are happy he is here.”
When asked if he was surprised by the reaction from fans, Kim said, “I was not really expecting it, I tried to remain as calm as possible at the time.”
Kim enjoyed Opening Day nonetheless
Booing aside, Kim said he enjoyed Opening Day, especially the 3-2 walkoff win.
“Opening Day was more like a festival here. Everybody was preparing for the specific event,” Kim said through interpreter Danny Lee. “I was a little nervous to be part of it, but I was also excited. Everything was new, so I was enjoying the moment with my teammates. So, overall, I liked what was out there.”
And Matt Wieters’ walkoff single?
“Super excited for the win,” Kim said. “I was really excited.”