Chris Davis says that “unique is a very good word for what we went through” to describe the 60-game 2020 baseball season,
Davis, who is the Orioles’ players representative, played in only 16 games, batting just .115 (6-for-52) with one RBI.
“For me, personally, it’s been a lot of trying to figure out what’s going on physically,” he said in a video conference call on Wednesday. “Trying to find answers, trying to find out what I can do to get back to 100 percent physically, being ready to start the next season injury-free and not worrying about anything. I’ve done a lot of rehab, here, not too far from where I live, and a lot of just physical therapy as far as my left knee and hip and ankle are concerned …
“Really, I think I’m still kind of going through everything that we just went through and gearing up for maybe having to do something like that again in the next few months.”
Davis, 34, had two stints on the 10-day injured list because of left patella knee tendinitis.
The first baseman discusses his status at the end of each season with his wife, Jill. In the past, Davis, who has two years left of his seven-year, $161 million contract, has acknowledged that they talked about retirement. That’s not the case now.
“We are both 100 percent committed to being in Sarasota, whenever that might be,” Davis said. “Whether that’s in a few months or whenever it is.”
The Orioles are scheduled to begin spring training at the Ed Smith Stadium complex in Sarasota, Florida on February 16th, when pitchers and catchers are scheduled to report.
“As far as I’m concerned, still being ready to play 162 games, 150, how ever many games, and ready to be the everyday first baseman,” Davis said. “I know that’s changed a little bit in some people’s minds, but in my mind, I can’t [feel] like it’s doing me any favors to go into it thinking I’m anything other than that.”
Davis said that the conditions of the shortened season reinforced his desire to play again.
“Because of everything that went on this past year, I don’t feel like it was a legitimate shot at a full season for me,” he said. “Obviously, not a full season as far as the number of games was concerned. In some ways, it was almost like more than a full season with everything I had to do to keep up physically and mentally over the break and going through all those multiple hour-long calls, trying to get things together with the league, so that we could have a season. I didn’t feel like I got a fair shake, as far as this season was concerned.
“I just think that there are too many doors left open for me to walk away,” Davis said.
Davis thinks he can be a productive player in 2021, despite declining numbers. He hit .168 in 2018 and .179 in 2019.
“I think the most discouraging thing for me this past season was when we restarted,” Davis said. “… I knew physically that I wasn’t 100 percent. I knew that I wasn’t even close to where I was when we started the first spring training. In my mind, I felt like I had to at least give it a shot, given the results that I saw early in the first spring.”
In Grapefruit League games, Davis, who had added muscle during the offseason, hit .409 (9-for-22) with three home runs, nine RBIs and 10 walks.
“That was probably the most taxing thing, physically, mentally, emotionally, just to kind of wear that. I think the biggest thing for me so far has kind of been to get away from everything. Obviously, I have to get back to 100 percent health, which I feel like I’m doing. For me, I really think it’s just taking a step back and taking a break.
“I’ve been really grinding, especially in the offseason the last couple of years. I think it’s taken a toll on me. I’ve talked to several guys who have gone through similar things in their careers, and pretty much everybody’s said the same thing—maybe it’s just time to take a step back and take a deep breath and get back after it after the beginning of the year, whenever it is.”
Davis has watched as the Orioles continue to make moves, shedding veterans as it tries to build a talent base with younger players.
“It’s tough to know what to make of it right now,” he said. “There’s no doubt that we’re in a rebuilding phase and, personally, I wonder where that rebuild is headed.
“Are we talking a complete rebuild? Are we talking we’re going to try to start things over from scratch and only have younger players, players that this new regime has drafted, that they’ve brought in, that they’ve brought up.
“I think that they’re trying to get the most of the guys that they have now and sometimes that means you have to lose some of the guys that have been productive for you. That’s the tough thing about being an older player in the situation that I’m in. A lot of times the moves that are made are going to affect the team in a more positive way when you’re not on the team.”
He said that executive vice president/general manager Mike Elias, assistant general manager Sig Mejdal and manager Brandon Hyde “have a pretty good idea of what they’re trying to accomplish. Sometimes, it doesn’t look like you think it would.”
Notes: In recent minor league signings, right-handed pitcher David Hess agreed to a deal with the Tampa Bay Rays and outfielder Dwight Smith Jr. signed with the Cincinnati Reds … Al Michaels, of NBC Sports, was named the Ford Frick Award winner for excellence in baseball broadcasting … Dick Kaegel, who long covered the Kansas City Royals for the Kansas City Star and MLB.com, won the J.G. Taylor Spink Award for excellence in baseball writing. Michaels and Kaegel will be honored during the Baseball Hall of Fame’s induction weekend in Cooperstown, New York on July 25-26, 2021.