One of the nicest surprises of the Orioles’ truncated spring training was the hitting of Chris Davis.
When the season begins, Davis will begin the fifth year of a seven-year $161 million contract, and after hitting a combined .172 in 2018 and 2019, the 34-year-old first baseman started off the spring strong.
Davis was hitting .467 with three home runs and nine RBIs in nine games before spring training was halted on March 12.
“I am confident that I can pick up where I left off,” Davis said on Tuesday during a conference call. “If you’re optimistic, which I’ve been trying to be, I feel like it’s something I can look at as a positive.
“While I didn’t go out there and continue to get regular game at-bats, I know that once we start up again, I’ll have an opportunity to go back out there and get more comfortable, get more at-bats, get more of a feel of where I want to be, but it was nice to see some results and give me a little peace of mind to know what I’m doing this offseason really worked and just to continue doing that.”
During the offseason, Davis worked with former Orioles teammate Craig Gentry and added 25 pounds of muscle.
“I feel like I’m swinging the bat just as well as I was when the games ended, and I look forward to the chance whenever we can start back up.”
Davis describes his home gym as modest, and is working during the layoff. As the Orioles’ player representative, he checks in with his teammates and says they’re working out adequately since most gyms around the country are closed during the pandemic.
Live batting practice isn’t possible, but that’s the same for everyone.
“How long do I think it’s going to take me?” Davis said. “I honestly feel like I’m still ready to roll right now. I think that’s my mindset. I’m hoping that’s the mindset of my teammates. Whenever we get the call to fire things up again, we’re ready to roll. As far as how long, I don’t know. For me, as a position player, it’s just a couple of days of at-bats.
“I know pitchers are a little bit different. They need to stretch out and do certain things. It will be interesting to see once we start talking about a possible start date what [a second] spring training is going to look like.”
During the pause because of the pandemic, Davis has been communicating with the Orioles, officials from the union and colleagues on other teams.
“I’m very proud of the way we’ve handled ourselves as players as a group,” he said. “I feel like we’ve shown that we’re unified, that we’re in this together, that we’re willing to do whatever it takes to play as many games as possible.”
Davis said that no matter how much practice a player is able to get at home, there’s a limit.
“You’re never ever going to be able to substitute or re-create in-game at-bats,” Davis said. “We still have time. This is very abnormal, very unusual. It’s something we’ve never been through before, but I feel like, especially in our situation, with the guys that we had in camp, and the guys I’d been talking to, even since the last day of camp, I feel like it’s brought us together.”
In the last two seasons, the Orioles lost a combined 223 games, but when spring training came to an abrupt end, they had a 9-7-3 record. Davis likes what he saw, and how the players have responded to the uncertainty.
“It’s forced us to lean on one another and really rely on one another to keep each other motivated,” Davis said. “Keep each other focused and positive. I’ve been extremely impressed with just the responses I’ve gotten overall from the guys.
“I expected it from the guys that were a little bit older, the Alex Cobbs, the guys that have been around, but when you start talking about some of these younger guys and how impressive they’ve been to me, just communicating, wanting to know what’s going on, wanting to be involved, wanting to be up to speed with whatever’s been going on, I’ve just been extremely pleased with our guys.”