Chris Davis considered retiring, but is back with Orioles for 2020; First baseman added 25 pounds and worked on hitting with Craig Gentry - BaltimoreBaseball.com

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Chris Davis considered retiring, but is back with Orioles for 2020; First baseman added 25 pounds and worked on hitting with Craig Gentry

Photo Credit: Joy R. Absalon

SARASOTA, Florida—After two horrible seasons, Chris Davis acknowledged he considered walking away from the Orioles after last season.

Davis, who is entering the fifth year of a seven-year, $161 million contract, has struggled since signing the deal in January 2016, and the past two seasons have humbled him.

In 2018, Davis hit .168 with 16 home runs and 49 RBIs. He followed it with a .179 average, 12 home runs and 36 RBIs last season. He began 2019 hitless in 33 at-bats. Combined with the 0-for-21 ending 2018, it gave the first baseman a record- breaking 0-for-54 skid.

In 2019, Davis played 105 games, his fewest since 2011. In addition to his low production, he struck out 139 times in 307 at-bats. He thought about ending his playing career.

“I’d be lying if I told you that wasn’t at least talked about towards the end of the season last year and this offseason,” Davis said. “I know what I’m capable of. I know what I expect of myself and I don’t want to continue to just struggle and be a below-average, well-below-average producer at the plate.”

Davis is owed $93 million on his contract, which includes $42 million of deferred money. He’s aware of what Orioles fans think.

“I don’t think that’s fair to these guys,” Davis said. “And I don’t think, honestly, it’s fair to our fans, or to anybody that’s associated with Baltimore. But I still think that there is something left in the tank, and I think that that’s really a conversation that we’re going to have to have at the end of this season.

“I have three years left after really two just grinding years, but I still think that there’s some time to kind of right the ship. So that’s a conversation I’ll have to have again at the end of the season.”

Davis comes into this season 25 pounds heavier than he was in 2019,  and he thinks it will make a difference.

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“I was really, really thin at the end of the season,” Davis said. “I think it was a combination of just physical and mental stress, and I just got back to kind of some of the basics. I wanted to get my weight back up, get my strength back up, and not focus so much this offseason on trying to stay lean, but really trying to get as strong as I could. Feel a little bit more physical, physically strong, physically fit. And felt like I did what I wanted to do.”

The decision to add muscle came from conversations with general manager Mike Elias and manager Brandon Hyde.

“I wanted to do it the right way,” Davis said. “I wanted to put good weight on and put it on all the right places, and I felt like I was able to do that. Whether it was through nutrition or training, a combination of both.”

Davis worked on hitting with a close friend, former Orioles outfielder Craig Gentry.

“We basically sat down at the beginning of the offseason … and talked about what I wanted to accomplish,” Davis said. “I basically said I wanted to get back down to the basics, and I want to do something that it is solely me and you. I want to kind of quiet some of the voices.

“I felt like it had gotten a little out of control with whose advice I was going to take and what I was going to try and do. The blueprint for success is there. But I think it is up to me to follow that and to really take accountability for what I’m doing and for who I’m listening to. So, it was good. It was a very productive offseason, and I think he might actually be more excited for the season to start than I am, which is kind of fun.”

In June 2018, then-manager Buck Showalter, vice president for baseball operations Brady Anderson and Davis decided he should take a break, and he didn’t play for 11 days.

“That was probably, for me, the lowest point because I felt like I didn’t really know where to go,” Davis said. “I felt like last year was tough, obviously, getting off to the start I got off to but a lot of that was out of my control.

“I felt I was kind on the right track last year, but a couple years ago when I had to take the break and work with Brady, there was a lot of hopeless feeling, and I think that’s part of taking the break … was to kind of give me a chance to take a breath, regroup and do some work where I didn’t have to go out and try to compete that night.

“That’s probably the lowest moment to me, but it was also followed by a lot of positivity, after coming back from two weeks and not having seen a live pitch and having a home run in my second at-bat and seeing a lot of success the first couple weeks back.”

Davis’ presence could be holding back Ryan Mountcastle, who turns 23 on Tuesday and hit .312 with 25 home runs and 83 RBIs for Triple-A Norfolk last year. But Davis, 33, said he doesn’t think about competing for playing time.

“It did for a long time in my career,” Davis said. “I think I got to a point several years ago where I realized that you can’t really do anything about that. For me now, especially with the overall look of our club, I want to do anything I can to help guys succeed.

“I think that’s kind of a lost art in our game, having a veteran player take guys aside and show them the way. I want to do everything that I can to help those guys. Part of that is competing and bringing the best out of them, and part of that is showing them their limits, and that’s what I plan to do.”

Davis wants to be a full-time player, and wants to be productive.

“I would like to have a big spring, just for myself, but I feel like spring training numbers can be a little watered down at times,” Davis said.  The goal for me is to get through camp healthy, to be productive. There are a few things that I want to accomplish, that I want to work on, but, ultimately, there has to be some substance there, so I mean, I’ve always had high expectations for myself and that hasn’t changed.”

Follow Rich Dubroff on Twitter @RichDubroffMLB

21 Comments

21 Comments

  1. Boog Robinson Robinson

    February 17, 2020 at 11:22 am

    Why wait? Oh please of please oh please ….

    But seriously, if I were the Crusher, and with that kind of cake on the line, I think I could wait out the Bal’more management and make them fire me.

  2. Diamondguy

    February 17, 2020 at 11:36 am

    I would like to believe the things that Chris is saying. For the teams sake he needs to perform. I was on the Davis bandwagon years ago. I quickly threw myself off of it! The one thing that I can’t get over was he total lack of care in several games I saw personally! He didn’t run out the bases and stood watching strike three so many times that I lost count!
    Hope 2020 can a better year for him! Obviously he isn’t going anywhere. He really needs to be a mentor to the younger players. What he portrays now is how to get a fat contract and then just lay in until that contract is up! GO O’s!!

  3. CalsPals

    February 17, 2020 at 12:12 pm

    High road, high road, gotta keep telling myself…93 million reasons why he didn’t retire…go O’s…

  4. Frank Howard LF-1B

    February 17, 2020 at 1:27 pm

    Wow! Davis the powerlifter and he’s gone from big to huge. It won’t be boring watching this.

    I hope it works out and CD becomes a terror at the plate again. All will be forgiven. Ovechkin did it and I was impressed. A couple of sub-par seasons, then the Caps’ coach flew out to Moskva to challenge him to improve. Ovechkin did all sorts of “get more explosive twitch muscle” exercises and it worked. He’s a terror again. [Ovi’s current Head Coach is a bust but that’s for a different blog ….]

    The new Karma of the Elias Orioles is a pretty good one, with fancy prospects VERY close to blossoming, and the veteran cast showing a lot of inspiration and pluck. Having CD hit the ball again could lead to a successful O’s offensive machine. Bring it on!

  5. mlbbirdfan

    February 17, 2020 at 2:08 pm

    He’s received $68 MILLION during the past four seasons!! His career earnings are enough for 100 lifetimes for any normal family in this country. He is rich, he’s blocking other players who matter to our future, insulting Orioles fans, and demonstrating a truly unchristian attitude when he claims to be a Christian. Is there no decency left. Chris, I used to respect you, cheer for you. What has happened to you?

    • TheGreat8

      February 17, 2020 at 6:18 pm

      He’s donated millions of dollars to local sick kids. If that’s unchristian, i can’t wait to see what he does when he finds Gd again!

  6. NormOs

    February 17, 2020 at 3:29 pm

    “The Crusher” (gag) thinking about retiring?……..Be still my heart!

  7. Beeb

    February 17, 2020 at 5:04 pm

    Rich…thank you for writing. I saw one writer today call him “one of the good guys in baseball”. Hard to stomach that nonsense. As a fan, I root for the team and consequently him. As a person, I still think of him in the same genre that Palmer characterized him. All talk and no action.

  8. Borg

    February 17, 2020 at 6:39 pm

    Yeah he considered walking away from the remaining tens of millions remaining on his contract. Sure he did, but then (SHOCKER) decided to come back to take that $22 million for 2020, 2021, etc.. What BS.

  9. woody

    February 17, 2020 at 6:46 pm

    gain 25lbs of muscle? thats insane – that surely is the single thing least likely to cure a guy that whiffs. Oh – and Craig Gentry? That guy couldn’t actually hit, but could do home to 1st in quick enough time to earn a living. What’s he gonna teach you Chris? Probably not gonna vote for you gaining 25lbs ha

  10. Bhoffman1

    February 17, 2020 at 7:44 pm

    I see Chris struggles has not affected his appetite

  11. johninbethany

    February 17, 2020 at 8:25 pm

    “So that’s a conversation I’ll have to have again at the end of the season.”. He’s already saying he will think about it again at the end of this season. Why can’t he just go to the O’s and say give me half of what is due and walk away. Yes, the union will be pissed at him, but who cares at this point. At least he might earn a little respect from the fans.

  12. CalbuytheOs

    February 17, 2020 at 9:35 pm

    Ok. I’m no physicist, but it seems to me that adding 25 lbs. of muscle doesn’t equate to actually HITTING the ball. CD struck out looking or whiffing HOW many times? In the real world, results speak louder than words.

  13. TxBirdFan

    February 17, 2020 at 10:31 pm

    Now I know what happened to all those post game pies that Adam Jones celebrated with. CD must be eating them to gain wait.

  14. willmiranda

    February 18, 2020 at 12:16 pm

    I have to feel compassion for anyone who had to spend eleven days with Brady Anderson. It is comforting to know that Davis realizes that it was the lowest point of his life. Wisdom through suffering.

    • Raymo

      February 19, 2020 at 10:47 pm

      Hahaha…. Brilliant!

  15. Shamus

    February 18, 2020 at 1:43 pm

    Damn… he was so close to leaving

  16. VegasOriole

    February 18, 2020 at 8:17 pm

    Is Gentry teaching Crush how to bunt?

  17. mlbbirdfan

    February 19, 2020 at 11:31 am

    I missed the news of his $3 million charitable donation; I’m sorry I suggested he’s
    un-Christian. His donation speaks for itself, glad to learn about this. The rest of what I said? I stand by it! He SHOULD negotiate a buy out, and retire.

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