SARASOTA, Florida—Chris Davis isn’t in the lineup for Friday’s Orioles game against the Pittsburgh Pirates in Bradenton. In three games, Davis is 4-for-5 with two home runs and three walks.
On Friday morning, Davis talked with a small group of Orioles beat reporters about his hot start, the team’s future and the Houston Astros scandal. Davis is the Orioles’ player representative.
Question: Does a performance like yesterday with Austin Hays and Ryan Mountcastle having big offensive days give you hope that there’s a good future for this team?
Answer: “Oh yeah, a lot. And a lot this offseason. I think that now that some of the guys are getting a little bit more comfortable, have been around a little bit, whether it’s as extras last year or even in camp, and now guys that are here in camp, you’re starting to see that there’s hope. Ryan and I actually had a chance to talk yesterday during BP and I hadn’t really gotten a chance to spend a whole lot of time with him just because we’ve kind of been on different schedules.
“But he can hit. There’s no doubt about that. You don’t do what he did at the minor league level if you can’t hit. And talking to him, trying to get a feel for where he was, how he felt, and then he goes out and has a day that he does, it’s cool, man. It really is. Especially as a guy who’s been here for a long time and been a part of some really good teams, it’s nice to see some of the guys come up and take advantage of the opportunity.”
Q: Mountcastle mentioned that he talked at length with you yesterday. Is it rewarding when players seek you out for advice?
A: “Absolutely, absolutely. And I appreciate that. And I think that guys know that I try to be as honest as I can about not only struggling but the successful times, as well. I want guys to ask me questions and to pick my brain. I think that’s one of the best ways to learn. That’s how I learned, from veteran players. I look forward to all those conversations.”
Q: How much is going to the opposite field a plan for you this season?
A: “It’s a big part of my plan, and it’s not so much going the other way. It’s letting the ball travel, not trying to go out and get everything, being ready to hit from the first time that I step in the box, from the first pitch, but also knowing that I have the ability to let the ball travel, to drive the ball, to look for my pitch. It’s been rewarding. It’s been nice to see some positive feedback, for sure.”
Q: When you see a dribbler go through the hole for a base hit, what’s your reaction?
A: “I almost passed out. I almost passed out halfway between home plate and first base, and then, I’m [like]: ‘You mean I can’t save that for the season. You’ve got to be kidding me. It went through like 27 guys.
“You know what? [Manager Brandon Hyde] and I had a conversation yesterday during the game, and it made a lot of sense, what he was saying, and it made me realize when you’re swinging the bat with authority, with a purpose, you’re putting the defense of their toes. They know that they have to pay attention. You can’t get comfortable. When I see a guy, as a defender, swing a bat, foul a ball off or even swing and miss, and take an aggressive hack, you notice that. ‘OK, man, I’ve got to pay attention,’ and I think that’s where it creates opportunities as a hitter. I like where I’m at right now. I’ve still got a long ways to go. This is definitely a good start.”
Q: You haven’t talked about the discipline handed down to the Houston Astros (for sign-stealing). Do you think some of the players should have been disciplined instead of being given immunity?
A: “I think the discipline that the players are going to get this year is going to be very interesting, and I say that meaning that a lot of that is going to be handed out between the lines. Obviously, what went on was awful for the game, for the fans, just for everybody involved.
“But it also opened a lot of eyes to things that were going on that shouldn’t have been, and I think it’s a good reminder that we need to keep the baseball on the field. Keep the baseball players, the baseball personnel on the field – as close to the field as possible. All the extra stuff, it seems like it’s flooding our game right now. There’s a time and place for it, but in the dugout, in the clubhouse, is not the place. So, I’m interested to see what happens this week, next week, the next few weeks and kind of how it plays out.”