Orioles' Chris Davis says he's changed mechanics at the plate - BaltimoreBaseball.com

Spring Training

Orioles’ Chris Davis says he’s changed mechanics at the plate

Photo credit: Joy R. Absalon

Chris Davis must get used to a new role on the Orioles. He must prove that he deserves to play.

Over the winter, manager Brandon Hyde and executive vice president/general manager Mike Elias indicated that would be the case, and nearing his 35th birthday, Davis said he understands and welcomes the challenge.

“Every year of my career, I approached spring training to compete for at-bats,” Davis said in a video conference call from spring training in Sarasota, Florida. “That’s really how I think any player should approach it because if you come in thinking it’s your job and you don’t have to do anything, you’re not doing yourself or anybody in the clubhouse any favors. That’s the way I approached this offseason and this coming spring training, I’m going to do the same.

“I’m going to push guys around me. I’m going to push Trey [Mancini] at first, whoever else is over there, and they’re going to push me back. That’s how you’re going to find out who your best guys are, and I have no doubt that we’re going to have the best nine out there, and we’re going to have a lot of familiar faces.”

Davis, who is entering the sixth year of a seven-year, $161 million contract, said he has made adjustments to his swing after years of abysmal numbers. He has spoken with Hyde about playing time this spring.

“I think he’s going to play quite a bit,” Hyde said. “I’m going to give him as many at-bats as I possibly can. I’m going to treat him like everybody else and play him as much as possible and get him to feel comfortable going into the season.”

Last year, Davis played just 16 games and had two stints on the 10-day injured list because of tendinitis in his left knee. He hit  .115 (6-for-52) with an RBI. It followed two awful seasons at the plate; in 2018, he hit .168 and in 2109, he hit .179. With Mancini returning after missing last season because of colon cancer surgery, he’s expected to be the starting first baseman.

“I did a lot of work this offseason with a physical therapist in Arlington, Texas at Dr. Keith Meister’s institute, and I feel really good,” Davis said. “Definitely not any younger, but my legs feel better than I thought they would.”

In December, Davis questioned the direction of a club that is rebuilding.

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“I think the questions that I had have been answered here the first few days,” Davis said. “I trust what Mike is doing. I trust what our ownership wants to do going forward, and I think we have the guys in the clubhouse to turn this thing around. Do I know the time frame of that? I don’t, but I know that as long as I’m here, I’m going to do everything that I can … to be there for those guys and give them an idea of what winning baseball was like in Baltimore, and what it can be like in the future.”

Davis said he has made mechanical changes to his swing in the offseason but declined to give specifics.

“I did some things differently,” he said. “You’ll see it. It will be visible to the naked eye. I’m excited about it. There are a lot of positive things going on around here, and I feel like I have done substantial work to really step outside my comfort zone and change some things mechanically. Physically change how I’m approaching my at-bats.

“It’s going to be weird. It’s going to be uncomfortable. I think it’s overdue, to say the least.”

Davis acknowledged that he’s considered changing his approach before.

“I felt early on in my career, and early on in my contract, that I was being paid to produce runs. I was being paid to be the guy to drive in the runs. I was not being paid to lay the bunts down and steal bases. That dynamic changed really quickly.”

In the first five games of the 2018 season, former manager Buck Showalter led Davis off to see if that could spark him. He had just one hit in 20 at-bats (.050).

“I was trying to do something a little bit different and a little bit dynamic,” Davis said. “It’s just not who I am.”

In last year’s abbreviated spring training, Davis hit .409 (9-for-22) with three home runs and nine RBIs. He came in bigger and stronger but then there was a four-month delay because of Covid-19. Davis couldn’t replicate what he had done in the spring.

“Last spring was an eye-opener,” Davis said. “It was, ‘OK, I can still do this.’ I was frustrated with the way things played out last season, to say the least. I felt like I came into spring training in great shape. I was really swinging the bat well, and then everything stopped, but I also understand that we did get a chance to play some games, and there were a lot of things bigger than baseball going on.”

Davis said he’s still enjoying baseball.

“I am having fun,” he said. “It’s taken me several years to realize how much fun this game can be because I was so hard on myself because I expected so much out of myself. I felt like I let a lot of people down.

“I felt like I was letting our fans down. That was a big deal to me. It took a lot out of me. The pandemic has helped me realize how much our fan base has supported me, how much I miss playing in front of our fans.”

Follow Rich Dubroff on Twitter @RichDubroffMLB

44 Comments

44 Comments

  1. ClayDal

    February 26, 2021 at 2:40 pm

    Wow, where to begin. In December he “questioned the direction of the club”. Would the fact he is still on it as puzzling to him as it is to many fans? He’s considered changing his approach at the plate? You think? After being in a slump for 5 years it’s good to know he’s thinking of changing his approach. I’ll step back and let the usual commenters comment

  2. Rob IsraOsFan

    February 26, 2021 at 3:24 pm

    I have a hunch that if I used MIcrosoft Word to compare Crash’s quotes from this year’s spring training interview to last year’s, the term “pandemic” would be the only new word showing up with track change underline. I felt like I was watching the movie “Groundhog Day” when I read this piece. I truly hope he can finally rebound this season!

    • dlgruber1

      February 26, 2021 at 9:54 pm

      OMG I was thinking the exact same thing. And not just from last year. Those comments remind me very much of what he said at Fanfest the last time they had one. C’mon Chris, at least try to come up with something, anything, different to say next year.

  3. garyintheloo

    February 26, 2021 at 3:32 pm

    As the old song goes, “Time Will Reveal.” So who loses at bats this spring in experiment no. 6?

  4. Birdman

    February 26, 2021 at 3:46 pm

    Davis seems like a confused guy, a lot disjointed comments … I think I’ve gone from being frustrated and annoyed to almost (except for the $23 million salary) feeling sorry for him.

  5. Boog Robinson Robinson

    February 26, 2021 at 4:31 pm

    “I think he’s going to play quite a bit,” Hyde said. “I’m going to give him as many at-bats as I possibly can. I’m going to treat him like everybody else and play him as much as possible and get him to feel comfortable going into the season.”

    Hyde really said this? Pardon my acronyms here … but WTH?

  6. Shamus

    February 26, 2021 at 4:42 pm

    So what?

  7. Shamus

    February 26, 2021 at 4:45 pm

    Davis is a bum

  8. CalsPals

    February 26, 2021 at 5:58 pm

    Just when Hyde gains some credibility he says crap like this…he shouldn’t be getting any at bats over Trey or Mountcastle…I realize they’ve committed TONS of $ his way, I’m just blown away he FINALLY decides to make a change, he fits no where on this team…go O’s…

  9. ptjhu

    February 26, 2021 at 5:59 pm

    And it only took how many years for this jerk to try something else?

  10. Camden82

    February 26, 2021 at 6:06 pm

    Perhaps question why and how you’ve suffered an epic statistical collapse, Chris. It’s really not that hard to understand what the organization is doing. They are trimming payroll, infusing the Farm with talent, and waiting for your contract to expire.

    I can see why Hyde would play Davis a lot this Spring though. I mean, we’ve been through so much as a country since the pandemic. Hyde probably thinks we all need to start learning how to laugh again.

  11. 89Ghost

    February 26, 2021 at 6:33 pm

    At least it will be difficult for him to underperform the last 3 seasons. We are due for a small miracle but I doubt he plays much (notwithstanding the rhetoric). Still wonder if he gets to 300 career hrs (funny to recall thinking that was sure thing).

  12. Eastern Sho Joe

    February 26, 2021 at 6:52 pm

    I watched the presser, and he certainly seems more humble. I am a little disappointed that the questions were so easy, I mean seriously, he jokingly said that he did the same thing this off-season as he’s done every season.

    He wouldn’t go into what he’s changed about his swing and said we’d have to watch the games. I was hoping the next question after was going to be ‘every other player shares what they’ve changed, and since you hold the record for longest hitless streak ever, don’t you think the fans deserve to hear what you’ve changed?’.

    Why is he never asked if he’s got a waiver to take adderall? Is there something I don’t understand here? I was under the impression that his violation was because he didn’t get approval from the league. Am I wrong? Clearly it made a difference to him, unless it’s a coincidence that his performance plunged the same time he stopped taking it. Again, and I missing something here? Has this been asked and I didn’t see it?

    Seeing him laugh at any time, and especially during a press conference, is disgusting. And I don’t know if there is a certain protocol or unwritten rule that reporters have to be nice to players that suck, but either way, I’d like to see his a$$ held to the fire.

    Lastly, I’ve supported Hyde and Elias for most of the things they’ve done, but if CD doesn’t make extraordinary improvement, and is still in the lineup – I may consider aligning myself with BRR and Calpal and bash everything the Os are doing.

    Sorry for the rant, but my patience with CD ran out a long time ago.

    • Boog Robinson Robinson

      February 26, 2021 at 7:33 pm

      I don’t bash everything. And I give credit where and when I see it’s due.

      • Eastern Sho Joe

        February 26, 2021 at 7:45 pm

        It was a joke BRR. I was hoping you’d find it funny too. Apologies if it offended, didn’t intend it to.

        • Boog Robinson Robinson

          February 26, 2021 at 8:34 pm

          No apology required. Sorry I didn’t recognize the levity. Probably because you lumped me in with my boy CalPals…and after all…he DOES bash everything. 🙂

          • Eastern Sho Joe

            February 26, 2021 at 9:37 pm

            lol. Good one.

    • CalsPals

      February 27, 2021 at 6:58 am

      Bash Brothers, only bash when appropriate…go O’s…

      • Boog Robinson Robinson

        February 27, 2021 at 8:38 am

        Bash Brothers … I like the sound of that.

  13. ClayDal

    February 26, 2021 at 7:08 pm

    I wouldn’t get too hyper about Hyde’s comments about playing Davis. The first week of Spring Training they say that about everyone. Since releasing Davis is an ownership decision, Hyde and Elias have to make the best of it. Since Mancini will need a day off every so often, Davis can play 1B and Mancini can DH. The Orioles don’t have a natural DH , ala David Ortiz, so they can rotate that spot and give Davis a game at DH once a week or so. The Orioles want to keep Mountcastle in LF , so I don’t see them sticking him at 1B except in an emergency. Give Davis about 50 at bats or so, if he’s 2-50 maybe, just maybe, ownership will bite the bullet and release him. We are now at the point where the deferred money is more (42 million) than the actual amount he will receive over the next 2 years (34 million). So probably best to let him play his way off the team. Whether he is here or not, the Orioles are still a losing team

    • Eastern Sho Joe

      February 26, 2021 at 7:27 pm

      Good point. Maybe I’m overreacting.

  14. OriolesNumber1Fan

    February 26, 2021 at 7:16 pm

    I don’t believe Davis takes away AB’s from Mountcastle or Mancini. Those guys are locks to play most of this season unless an injury or a major slump happens to one of them. Davis probably doesn’t even make it through this season. He couldn’t even make it through a 60 game season last year with his bulky knee or immovable left hip. But if he does make it through spring training and some miracle the 162 game season, he may take away at bat’s from DJ Stewart. Or possibly Mullins or Hays, (whoever’s not in center field) now that could be a possibility but only if he’s hitting well.

    But reading between the lines, what Hyde basically said that he will treat Davis like anyone else, only shows he won’t get preferential treatment which is a good thing. So if Davis isn’t hitting or playing well then he doesn’t play bottom line.

    So, maybe in spring training he gets plenty of AB’s but it’s only spring training. And that will probably prove only one thing – that he can’t play anymore. And then maybe the Orioles will finally release him.

  15. B.C. Bird

    February 26, 2021 at 8:03 pm

    Aaagh I need a doctor, Oriole management has driven me over the edge. I understand the rebuild propaganda Elias and company keep spewing but here is where it becomes confusing. We think we have potential candidates coming up through the system, I’m told we have, yet we continue to sign old vets and keep the likes of Chris Davis in camp. If the objective is to tank lets tank with our future stars getting tons of playing time, please don’t say we don’t want to start the clock too soon on these guys, nobody hangs around Baltimore anyway. It’s extremely frustrating being a fan these days, does anyone truly believe there is light at the end of the tunnel
    Keep the faith

    • Eastern Sho Joe

      February 26, 2021 at 8:31 pm

      BC, they are bringing up players, but some like Adley R and Grayson R just aren’t ready, and with service time, arbitration, etc, it’s foolish to bring them up until they can perform. Hopefully they’ll shine, be promoted and AAA will go full season to give these guys the experience they need to be brought up next year.

      • Boog Robinson Robinson

        February 26, 2021 at 9:05 pm

        Who says Rutschman isn’t ready? Elias? Can’t believe a freakin’ thing that guy says. He’s done nothing but spin the truth since his arrival. By all reports, Rutchsman was tearing up the 60 man camp last year. So who’s to say he’s not ready?

        It’s far more likely that the team isn’t ready to start the clock on him, than it is he’s not ready.

        • Eastern Sho Joe

          February 26, 2021 at 9:41 pm

          The highest level he’s played is Low A, and that was only for a little over a month.

          Even the best players need time to grow.

          • Boog Robinson Robinson

            February 26, 2021 at 11:07 pm

            I’d argue that by saying the 60 man camp was on par at least with AA ball, and most likely more condensed than a regular season. And frankly, the best don’t need time … they hit the ground running. And isn’t that what we’ve been sold that he is? The best?

          • Eastern Sho Joe

            February 26, 2021 at 11:56 pm

            BRR, first, to even imply that 1 month of A Ball, and last year’s minor camp is enough that Adley R should skip AAA and go right to the Bigs is so ridiculous that it’s laughable.

            And, I assumed since you use his last name as part of your screen name here, that you would’ve known that the best don’t always “hit the ground running.”

            I mean, you do consider Brooks Robinson to be one of the best right? Well, he was promoted to the Majors without much time on the farm, and that didn’t work out so good.

            Well, he did good his first game, but went on a hitless streak and was eventually benched. Then what happened? He was sent to the minors and Brooks himself said he wasn’t ready for the Majors when first coming up.

            So what is it, are you wrong saying the best don’t need time on the farm, or wasn’t Brooks one of the best? You can’t have both. I say you’re wrong and Brooks would too.

          • Boog Robinson Robinson

            February 27, 2021 at 8:40 am

            Nobody ever accused Brooks of being one the best hitters of all time.

    • CalsPals

      February 27, 2021 at 7:04 am

      Rutschman was the only starter on MLB’s under 25 team not to be or ready to play in the majors according to them, for a second I thought we were in Seattle with the talk of manipulation of time, hmmm…interesting…go O’s…

      • Boog Robinson Robinson

        February 27, 2021 at 8:43 am

        Damn straight they’re delaying him because of time. So he’ll be brought up later this year. Are they telling us that 2/3 months of more minor league ball makes all the difference between being ‘ready’ or not?

        Besides … what’s so wrong about learning on the job?

    • ClayDal

      February 27, 2021 at 7:32 am

      What list are you looking at? According to MLB.COM under 25 list there are 10 players who haven’t played in the majors (Franco, Rutschman, Torkelson, Kelenic, Rodriguez, Sanchez, Witt Jr. , Vaughn, Gore, and Abrahams)

    • CalsPals

      February 27, 2021 at 8:22 am

      Read everything I wrote, I’m not sure what list you’re looking at but Witt Jr was not on it, 9 players under 25, 1 at each position, Franco was the SS, everyday I get an update email, this was yesterday’s, I didn’t say they’ve all played, they listed a batting order w/positions, 1/2 the players you named were not on the list…go O’s…

    • CalsPals

      February 27, 2021 at 8:29 am

      Dug up the email, there was an ad break after the top 9, thought that was the lineup as the top 9 were all different positions…my bad, still kinda thought I was on a Seattle site with the manipulation part…go O’s…

  16. Bhoffman1

    February 26, 2021 at 9:41 pm

    I gotta give Davis a lot of credit nobody can double talk with a straight face better then him. Did he say anything different then he’s been saying every year when he reports to camp. If so please clue me in.

    • Boog Robinson Robinson

      February 27, 2021 at 8:45 am

      Straight face? The big dope doesn’t realize he’s a big dope.

  17. dlgruber1

    February 26, 2021 at 9:51 pm

    I’m assuming what I’m about to suggest isn’t as easy as I make it seem to be. I wonder why, since so much of Davis’ remaining money is deferred, the O’s can’t just ask him to accept either more years of deferred money or higher amounts in the remaining years and just release him now. He’d still get all his money and the club could then move on without him. Am I missing something that I don’t understand?

    • Birdman

      February 26, 2021 at 10:30 pm

      Sure, the Orioles cam propose to Davis that he restructure his contract, but they can’t force him to accept any change. If he and his agent prefer the current contract structure, that’s it.

      It made sense for the Orioles to not release Davis in 2020, since they only had to pay him a reduced pro–rated salary for the shortened season. They probably saved at least $10 million in 2020, by not releasing Davis. But with a full season expected in 2021, there doesn’t appear to be any financial, or baseball, reason to keep him on the roster. I think the Angelos sons probably feel that simply releasing Davis outright would amount to a public admission that their father made a huge blunder, and that’s something they don’t want to do.

    • dlgruber1

      February 26, 2021 at 11:49 pm

      Here’s what I find SO frustrating. EVERYBODY, and I mean everybody, knows that Davis’ problems are 90% mental and 10% physical. Yet I’ve not once heard him asked about that. Maybe it’s happened and I’m just not aware of it. Every year he repeats the same thing about all the work he’s done during the off-season. Maybe it would help him if he just came out and said “I haven’t been able to handle the pressure I’ve put on myself to justify the money I’m making.” There’s no shame in admitting that. Who knows, getting that off his chest might relieve some of that pressure and relax him enough that he could begin to perform again.

  18. Hallbe62

    February 27, 2021 at 8:45 am

    Davis ..Smavish

    Inconsequential

  19. Tileman

    February 27, 2021 at 9:17 am

    Ever since CD got off the juice his bat speed became non existent.

  20. mmcmillan1123

    February 27, 2021 at 11:26 am

    At least CD takes our minds off the pandemic and politics for a while. Thanks Chis, good luck this year.

  21. WorldlyView

    February 27, 2021 at 5:02 pm

    Given this unanimous negativity, it is virtually inevitable that CD will bat .275 and hit 40 home runs.

    • dlgruber1

      February 27, 2021 at 9:35 pm

      If that really worked it would’ve happened 2 years ago.

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