SARASOTA, Fla. - First baseman Chris Davis is out of options, but not out of chances to establish himself in the majors. He’s getting another one in 2012.
It’s time to make the most of it.
“For me, it feels like the first time in a couple years that I’m going to actually be given a shot to play every day in the big leagues,” he said. “The last couple of springs (with the Rangers), I knew I was going to have to come in and compete just for a chance to break with the team. It feels good to come in here and be ready to play, but there’s not a lot of pressure to go out there and win a spot today. There’s a little less weight on my shoulders this year.
“I felt like last year when I came into camp, it was full-go first day. A lot of guys were easing into it and I was out there taking ground balls, doing all the extra stuff, really trying to make an impression early. I’ve been able to come down here a little early and kind of get my legs underneath me and see what it’s all about, and I’m really looking forward to it.
“I think we have a great group of guys. Obviously, the way we ended the season last year was very positive and we’ll look to build on that.”
Davis can’t build on his career if he can’t stay healthy. He had issues with his legs and right shoulder last season, and battled through the pain from a sports hernia that didn’t require surgery.
“My whole mentality this offseason was to get as strong as I could,” he said. “Obviously, having the injuries at the end of the season last year was frustrating to get my body back to 100 percent. I feel outstanding right now. I say this every spring, but I feel like I’m in the best shape of my life right now.
“I saw the doc about a week after the season ended in Dallas and he basically told me that after having rested really the last couple months of the season - the last time you guys saw me, I wasn’t working out. I was just trying to hang on until the end - he told me to kind of gauge it on my own, and if I felt like I could go out and work out on my own, I could do that. So about two weeks after the season ended, I started hitting the weights. It took me about two weeks to get back to where I wanted to be, and like I said, I feel like I’m in great shape right now.”
Davis, 25, switched to third base later in the season, but he’s back at first, where he’ll compete with newly signed Nick Johnson for the starting job. Plenty of at-bats also could come in the DH slot.
Davis, who batted .276/.310/.398 with nine doubles, two homers and 13 RBIs in 31 games with the Orioles, headed home after the season unsure where he’d play.
“I knew it was up in the air,” he said. “I talked to Buck (Showalter) at the end of the season about maybe going first to third, back and forth. And to have the ability to do that I think gives a lot of flexibility with the lineup. But he texted me somewhere in the middle of the offseason and basically told me that he wanted me at first and he wanted Mark (Reynolds) at third, so going into it, that’s what we’re going to do. If things change, like I said, it’s good to be able to have the luxury of going back and forth and to have two guys who can do that.”