Chris Davis says this year's Orioles are more fun to play for - BaltimoreBaseball.com

Rich Dubroff

Chris Davis says this year’s Orioles are more fun to play for

Photo Credit: Joy R. Absalon

SAN DIEGO—With his teammates mentioned in trade talks, Chris Davis could reflect on having gone through the experience. Tuesday was the eighth anniversary of the trade that changed Davis’ career, the one that sent him from the Texas Rangers to the Orioles.

That trade sent Koji Uehara to the Rangers for Davis and Tommy Hunter. Eight years later, Davis is the senior Oriole, and one who could give Trey Mancini or Mychal Givens advice about being the subject of trade speculation.

“Stay focused on your job,” Davis said. “If you let yourself go down that road, I think it will be a huge distraction … I think in order to be fair to yourself and your teammates, you’ve got to continue to come in,  focused on the task at hand.”

Davis has had a second straight horrible year. After 2018, when he hit just .168 and struck out 192 times in 128 games, this year he’s happier even though it’s been another season of struggles.

He began the season without a hit in 33 at-bats after going 0-for-21 to end 2018. A high point during his low point was the support of fans at Oriole Park.

Statistically, this year hasn’t been any better. Davis is hitting .181, and his game-winning home run in Tuesday’s 8-5 victory was just his eighth and his first since July 5. He has only 27 RBIs.

The home run broke an 0-for-18 skid. On a road trip in which the Orioles went 5-4, Davis hadn’t had a hit in 16 at-bats and had struck out 14 times.

“Obviously, he’s been struggling,” manager Brandon Hyde said. “For him to get a home run to give us the lead late, where we battled back, it’s a great feeling for him. The guys were real excited for him and I know that means a lot to him.”

Davis is just past the halfway point of his seven-year, $161-million contract. Hyde didn’t get to see the Davis who led the major leagues in home runs in 2013 and 2015. The Davis he sees is taking ground balls before day games and trying to do whatever he can to justify his place on the Orioles.

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“He’s had a tough trip,” Hyde said. “He’s had an up-and-down season. He’s had really good moments, and he’s had some tough moments. He’s part of us, and we pull for him big time, so to see him  deliver in a big spot, that’s great.”

In 2011, Davis joined a team that already had J.J. Hardy, Adam Jones, Nick Markakis and Matt Wieters. Manny Machado was a year away from joining them. This season he has received support from far younger teammates who are pulling for him.

“Taxing,” is the way Davis described the season.

“Feel like I have more gray hairs than I started the season with. I think that’s something that was to be expected coming into the season, knowing that we were going to have a lot of inexperienced guys, a lot of guys who were going to have to try to figure out how to compete at the big league level … I think it was to be expected, but it’s always harder going through it no matter how you try to prepare yourself.”

A year ago, the Orioles were finishing up their tear-down by trading Kevin Gausman, Darren O’Day and Jonathan Schoop, having already traded Machado, Brad Brach and Zack Britton. Jones would leave at the end of the season.

Davis said last season was harder.

“I mean, nobody likes to struggle, and struggling’s tough no matter the environment you’re in, but I just feel like it’s a better place to come to work this year,” Davis said.

“There’s hope. I feel like last year, the bar was set so high from the beginning of the year, and then things changed so quickly. It was a complete 180 after the All-Star break and trade deadline. Half of our team was gone.

“We had a bunch of new faces in the clubhouse, and it was a sobering feeling coming to the field every day knowing that you’re going to try to just grind through nine innings. This year, it’s been a little bit different. I feel like we have things to work on, things that we’re trying to accomplish, and you can see the work that we’ve put in starting to pay off. It’s encouraging.”

Davis is the oldest player on the Orioles at 33. Only pitchers Richard Bleier (32) and Asher Wojciechowski (30) have hit 30.

“I think guys are starting to settle in a little bit,” Davis said. “We’re starting to trust each other and understand each other’s tendencies and abilities, and I think the more time we spend together, the more games we play, the better off we’re going to be. Hopefully, this is the start of something good to come.”

He appreciates the support of his teammates.

“It means a ton,” he said. “Every day I come in here and go to work. I know that there are number of guys in here that are rooting me on, cheering for me. They want to see me succeed. I want to see them succeed. It’s a cool thing to be a part of. It really does feel like a group of guys that’s kind of a band of brothers or a family even though we haven’t been together that long. We’re starting to understand what it takes to win at this level. It’s been fun.”

Follow Rich Dubroff on Twitter @RichDubroffMLB

32 Comments

32 Comments

  1. Boog Robinson Robinson

    July 31, 2019 at 7:20 am

    OMG Rich … how sweet can you be to this guy?

    “and he’s outlasted all of them with the Orioles” …… shouldn’t there be some sort of qualiication to that statement? HE didn’t outlast anybody. His contract did. That’s called spin.

    Whatever … it just gives me the warm and fuzzies knowing how much fun Crush is having this year. Sheesh!

    • Rich Dubroff

      July 31, 2019 at 9:40 am

      Boog, I’m pointing out just how long he’s been on the team.

      • Boog Robinson Robinson

        July 31, 2019 at 12:20 pm

        No offense intended Rich. You’re still my guy!

  2. Le Merlu

    July 31, 2019 at 7:37 am

    So it’s probably time to actually play for these Orioles.

  3. cb

    July 31, 2019 at 8:06 am

    Striking out 14 out of 16 is just stunning to me.

  4. Orial

    July 31, 2019 at 8:15 am

    In defense of Rich’s article I can say that though Davis has been a disaster he has been with this team for quite a while and probably has more than anybody the experiences to compare the teams from year to year. Palmer made the comment yesterday–“scouts keep asking me(Palmer) why they just don’t play him(Davis) everyday”. There may be a point to that question. Either play him everyday to break these slumps(if possible) or sit him all the time. Thorne did mention that the Davis issue will have to be addressed this off season(underststement). He’ll be gone.

  5. Greazy Tony

    July 31, 2019 at 8:26 am

    I honestly don’t know how Davis shows his face in a MLB locker room. I don’t care how many ground balls he takes before a game, how much time he spends giving advice to younger players or how focused he is. Since the ink dried on this albatross of a contract he is slashing .200/.293/.368 with an OPS of .679 in 491 games. Over that span he has hit 88 HR’s meaning he’s made roughly a million dollars per HR. A man with any kind of professionalism would have worked with the new management team to structure some kind of buy-out and just retired.

    I know it’s not his fault that the O’s offered him this contract (when they were bidding against themselves) but, it’s not my fault either. Just because they made a bad business decision doesn’t mean they should expect fans to do the same and pay for tickets, concessions and merchandise.

    • Borg

      July 31, 2019 at 8:48 am

      And keep in mind that the first year of that contract wasn’t actually the disaster the rest of it has been. Subtract those numbers and the stat line is even worse. I thought much the same thing about this season taken alone-“Let’s see how he does after he broke that slump in the beginning.” Since that 0-33 start he is still only hitting .211, and since he doesn’t walk much or hit for much power it’s just a hole in the lineup. Sure it’s nice he put the O’s ahead yesterday, but that hit was an outlier, not a sign of things to come. The days of him stroking 8 HRs in 10 or 12 games are long gone.

      The argument might be made that he isn’t really hurting anything since the O’s aren’t going anywhere this season, but even that isn’t true. He’s blocking Mancini from developing at first and he is blocking minor league outfielders from logging some major league ABs. The O’s should be thinking of getting some of those guys up anyway and see what they can do. At the very least, Davis should not sniff the field after the rosters expand in September.

      But it does my heart good to know he’s having more fun this year than last, although I would have thought getting $17 million for six months work would go a long way towards making you happy to show up each day.

    • Boog Robinson Robinson

      July 31, 2019 at 9:42 am

      Can’t figure out how he shows his face in the locker room? I’ll point to 23+ reasons this year alone why he can show his face in the locker room. That’s just a silly take on his situation. Don’t blame Crush for being there, blame the Angelos family for paying him to be there.

      • Greazy Tony

        July 31, 2019 at 10:54 am

        Boog: If you’ll notice I said “it’s not his fault the O’s offered him this contract”. He didn’t point a gun at them and demand 23 Mil a year. However, he took the contract and if he’s anything other than ashamed about the output that he is producing for all those millions then I just can’t understand it. His sense of self must be huge, or his sense of shame is non-existent. This situation is no different than Albert Belle. Belle’s hip made it so he could no longer play, even though he was only 33. With Davis it’s either his head or his heart that is at fault, but either way he is no longer a major league level player and he should retire.

        • Boog Robinson Robinson

          July 31, 2019 at 12:25 pm

          But to imply that … what … pride? … should make him give the money back and simply go away!?| Please … that’s silly. And comparing him to a player that physcially couldn’t play is not fair either. Besides … and correct me if I’m wrong … but I’m betting Albert still collected his paycheck as well. It’s different in that the O’s had an out with the injury to Belle. They don’t have that luxury with Crush.

          • Greazy Tony

            July 31, 2019 at 2:52 pm

            You’re absolutely right, he isn’t going to give money back. You also suck at reading because I never suggested that is what should happen. Just like Belle got money and stopped playing that is what I want Davis to do. The team has to pay that money out one way or another. So they can either pay him to do nothing, or to actively hurt the ballclub. Every AB he gets is one Mountcastle doesn’t. Every inning he plays at 1B is an inning Trey doesn’t.

          • Boog Robinson Robinson

            July 31, 2019 at 3:54 pm

            Now you’ve hurt my feelings with your potty mouth Tony. BTW … I read really well.

            What you DID say was that Davis should ‘retire’. Well if he voluntarily does that, he has to forfeit the remaining money doesn’t he? Yes he does.

            As far as Albert Belle goes, after he ‘retired’, he was kept active on the O’s 40 man roster for the next 3 years as a condition of an insurance policy which reimbursed almost 100% of his remaining contract cost to the Orioles. Not at all a comparable situation to Davis’.

            Did I write that slowly enough for you? Or does logic simply escape you? Or am I not reading very well again?

    • Bhoffman1

      July 31, 2019 at 10:06 am

      Geazy I agree wholeheartedly with you. The guys a moron. He should be saying that’s it’s no fun for him being statistically the worst hitter in all of MLB and one of the highest paid on top of that. He’s having fun sure he’s gets over $100,000 per game to show up. He’s in total denial and if his teammates are 100 per cent behind him I believe they are just putting up a phony front because most of them are young and just want to stay here and not make waves.

  6. deqalt

    July 31, 2019 at 9:07 am

    What a wild article thank you Rich I enjoyed it. There is so much to say here. First, I believe Chris Davis is probably a great person and wish him the best. From the baseball side I don’t want any of these young guys following him. He might be working hard, but the results are a failure. Why do we care what Chris Davis thinks? Literally this guy is completely out of baseball right now if it wasn’t for half his contract. He’s enjoying this season more? Of course there is zero expectations for this team. AKA He gets paid and no one cares if you win. Everyone was posting about Trey Mancini and starting a winning culture. Chris Davis the baseball player is the opposite. I don’t care if he is happy or not. He is lucky to put on a uniform.

    • Bhoffman1

      July 31, 2019 at 1:56 pm

      Perfectly said. He’s one lucky out of touch not to bright guy.

    • Camden Brooks

      July 31, 2019 at 4:40 pm

      Bhoff, I don’t know why you consistently resort to name calling with CD. Does it make you feel better about yourself? He’s a moron because he continues to struggle at the plate? I’ll go out on a limb, and say HE knows the difference between “to” and “too.”

    • Bhoffman1

      August 1, 2019 at 12:33 pm

      Your a joke Camden. Let Chris enjoy his season and pathetic performance and you can be polite and feel for him.

    • Camden Brooks

      August 1, 2019 at 7:26 pm

      You’re is the word you were looking to use. As in, “you’re a moron.” CD is a terrible hitter, but that doesn’t make him stupid. Poor use of the English language on the other hand…

  7. Mickraut

    July 31, 2019 at 9:12 am

    Time to acknowledge the contract was a mistake and bench him.
    Mancini needs to play his natural position, first base.

  8. ButchBird59

    July 31, 2019 at 9:56 am

    I’ve never put much stock in body language experts but, to the eyes of this body language amateur, I agree with Crush. The 2019 Orioles’ dugout looks totally different than the 2018 version. Last year’s team had more major league qualified talent but, the guys on the bench looked like the waiting room at the dentist’s office. It’s nice to see players having fun again.

    • Ekim

      July 31, 2019 at 10:59 am

      Youthful exuberance… Just saying…

  9. Bancells Moustache

    July 31, 2019 at 10:57 am

    It’s nice to play with house money. The last two years were a team run by a manager and GM who were worried about their jobs, and had an expectation of the post-season from ownership, as ridiculous as that sounds in hindsight. Duquette wrecked the next few years in the futile pursuit of the second wild-card, and Showalter was probably feeling so much internal pressure, knowing his most likely last chance for a ring and a shot at Cooperstown was going down in flames it was surely a horribly tense place to work.

    Regarding Davis doing the “honorable thing” and giving money back to Angelos, get real. Guaranteed contracts are the most sacred, holy grail achievement of the players union. Even if Davis wanted to, Tony Clark and company would grab him by the nose and squash that notion faster than you can say Mendoza Line.

    • Boog Robinson Robinson

      July 31, 2019 at 12:13 pm

      Mendoza line.

  10. mcgooding

    July 31, 2019 at 11:13 am

    Yup, Davis has been horrible. I’d bet the farm though that at least half of you guys that are bitching about him were happy that the Orioles extended his contract when they did. It’s easy to criticize…think back boys. You wanted him to resign then. Angelos listened to the fans and spent the money. You can’t blame Davis or Angelos. So you all can stop being so hypocritical!

    • Boog Robinson Robinson

      July 31, 2019 at 12:20 pm

      I wasn’t one of them. But I agree the decision to sign Davis was due to in large part to public opinion. BUT … that public was opined as such in large part because of how they didn’t pay Nelson Cruz and then his subsequent succcess in Seattle. It was a knee jerk reaction, and us old farts that still put Batting Average at or near the top the the statitistics-totem pole, knew it was fools gold they were chasing. (BTW … Nelson Cruz never hit .220 ish)

  11. NormOs

    July 31, 2019 at 11:17 am

    First, a correction, BHoffman, he gets $144,000 per game whether he shows up or not. How many people would be able to stay in MLB with 14 k’s in 16 AB’s? Every time this guy is in the lineup just proves once again how stupid this deal was. This guy has been terrible (and I’m trying to be nice there) since he signed that contract. He has to be paid but he doesn’t have to play. The reason he having more fun (23 mil a year can do that) is because there are a few guys on this team that are as bad as he is. The difference being that they’re working for bupkes.

  12. Jbigle1

    July 31, 2019 at 11:28 am

    Davis’ deal is what it is. We all know it’s well past awful at this point. I’m not going to beat the dead horse there.

    I bet this team is a lot more fun to play on. You have guys fighting for big league jobs. Fighting to make real money, fighting to get a pension. There’s real motivations for these guys. 43 days of major league service time guarantees you a 34k a year pension. Many of these guys haven’t banked a ton of money playing baseball and are fighting for their check. No real surprise there.

  13. ClayDal

    July 31, 2019 at 3:00 pm

    Even when Davis was in his prime years he was a strikeout machine. The strikeouts over the last 2 years or so don’t bother me as much as the fact that when he does make contact he’s not nearly as consistently productive as he used to be. In the free agent era all teams make big money signings that they live to regret. Pablo Sandoval with Boston, Barry Zito with the Giants, Josh Hamilton with the Angels. I remember when Mike Hampton signed with Colorado and mentioned Denver’s public school system. Getting back to Davis, the Orioles , like any other team, will try to get some return on their investment. Eventually though, they will probably cut him loose when he stands in the way of the teams playoff hopes. Then he will get released sign with Tampa Bay for the league minimum and hit 50 HR’s back to back years while the Orioles are paying him 20 million. And all the fans will complain that we let him go

  14. WorldlyView

    July 31, 2019 at 8:00 pm

    I don’t care if Davis is having more fun this year, and I don’t care about his assessment of team chemistry. He should concentrate on reclaiming his ability to play major league ball. His salary, while vexing, is secondary to finding out if he can be a positive force for the rebuilding effort. Management should change his diet, fit him with a pair of contact lenses, send him to a hypnotist, and maybe tinker with his batting stance. He probably should play most of the games for the rest of the season so that the brain-trust can make a final decision as to keeping him or releasing him. As suggested by an earlier commentator, I would not be surprised at all if another team picked him up, altered his mindset and any physical maladies, and then watched him become a respectable hitter again. A suggestion for Rich or any other journalist out there: do off the record interviews with other Oriole players to find out what their thoughts are: do most of them think CD is an albatross or are they just pulling for him to snap out of it? I really would like to know what his teammates think–this might be an important variable as to where we go from here.

    • Rich Dubroff

      August 1, 2019 at 9:38 am

      Professor Cohen, I believe Chris does wear contact lenses. Each player is given a thorough physical each spring training which includes an eye exam.

      The Orioles have tried everything to help Chris improve, on the field and off it. Current players are just hoping they can stay with the club, they’re not going to criticize Davis.

  15. BrockVond

    August 7, 2019 at 9:02 pm

    This post did not age well. lol

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