DETROIT—In a season that’s been otherwise forgettable, Chris Davis has been named the Orioles’ nominee for the Roberto Clemente award for his off-the-field activities.
Davis and his wife, Jill, have long been active in community work. In the Orioles’ release announcing the award, it lists nine organizations they have both donated money to and been directly involved in.
Davis is best known for his contributions to the University of Maryland Children’s Hospital. Each year, he holds an event at Oriole Park to benefit the hospital.
Inspired by the late Orioles public relations director Monica Barlow, Davis also has been involved with LUNGevity. Barlow died of lung cancer in 2014.
Davis also is associated with Casey Cares, a charity run by Casey Baynes, which organizes outings for critically ill youngsters. He hosts a race each year at Oriole Park.
“Jill and I do a lot in and around the city and to be recognized for it it means a lot to us,” Davis said. “Obviously, we don’t do it for that. We have a lot of relationships that we’ve built over the years, a lot of people that we’ve come to know, come to love.
“And that’s the real reason that we do this stuff. They were a little more detailed this year than they have been in the past, which is OK. But like I said, that’s not the reason that we do all this stuff. We do it because we enjoy giving back and doing whatever we can to help people in stress.”
Davis came to the Orioles in July 2011 and signed a seven-year, $161 million extension in January 2016. When he re-signed, his charitable work in Baltimore increased.
“It’s huge, and that was one of the determining factors when we were trying to figure out going through free agency if we wanted to go back to Baltimore, if we wanted to go somewhere else,” Davis said.
“Ultimately … we decided to come back to Baltimore because we had a lot of those relationships already built. The foundation was already set. And we knew that we could just cultivate them over the years.
“As much as I would like to see more of a return on the baseball field, I understand that the platform that I have and the spot that I’m in, it’s so much more than baseball. Jill and I are going to continue doing whatever we can to serve the community of Baltimore and the people of Baltimore.”
It’s the second year in a row that Davis has been the Orioles’ nominee, and the second year in a row that he’s struggled mightily on the field. Davis is batting .172 after hitting .168 last year.
“I think it just makes you step back and have a little bit of perspective and really understand that we’re so much more than baseball players. Yeah, this is our job. We have to work hard at it, we have to spend a lot of time, a lot of energy, to be at this level.
“But there’s so much more that is involved and so much more that is really asked of us on and off the field. I couldn’t think of a better way to spend my time off the field than doing what we do in the past few years, and I’m going to continue doing that.”
Davis isn’t in the starting lineup again for Saturday’s game. This month, he has had just eight at-bats in three games.
“It’s a different role, but it’s something that I’ve embraced … [manager Brandon Hyde’s] been good with being upfront with me and being honest, and that’s all that I’ve asked.
“[General manager Mike Elias] and I sat down several weeks ago and kind of went over a program that we both thought was going to be beneficial, not only for me, but for the Orioles and my teammates as well. I’ve enjoyed being around the guys and getting a chance to kind of coach and teach, something that I didn’t expect to do at this point in my career.”
Davis, who has only 10 home runs and 34 RBIs in 99 games, has three more years left on his contract.
“Would I like to be on the field?” Davis said. “Absolutely. But I want to be in a position where I can be productive and be the player that I’m capable of being, and that my teammates deserve to have on the field, so I’ll continue to work and give back to the things that I know, the things that I have seen results from and hopefully finish up the year, whether it’s on the bench or on the field … on a strong note.”