If there’s anyone in the Orioles’ organization who should pay particularly close attention to the off-season roster moves orchestrated by executive vice president Dan Duquette, it’s designated hitter/first baseman/outfielder/emergency reliever Chris Davis.
Davis could be impacted in so many ways.
The Orioles are looking for another bat, which could fit in the DH slot, at first base or in left field, depending on whether Mark Reynolds is back in 2013. Davis did most of his work this season as the DH, appearing in 60 games, but he’d rather not be restricted to wearing only a batting glove next year.
“I have not heard anything since the season ended as to what my role will be next year,” Davis said. “I don’t know what the organization plans to do with Mark, but I do feel I have earned the right to play every day at one position, whether that be in the outfield or at first base. At this point in my career, I believe I have more to offer on both sides of the ball, rather than being a DH.”
Davis is coming off his finest season, batting .270/.326/.501 with 20 doubles, 33 homers, 85 RBIs and 169 strikeouts in 515 at-bats over 139 games. He hadn’t received more than 391 at-bats in his previous four years in the majors.
“After looking back on the season, I’m very proud of what our team accomplished and how we handled ourselves all year,” Davis said. “We were very confident all year despite what was being said about us, and I think we turned a few heads this season. I was excited to get the opportunity to play everyday and have a full season of at-bats under my belt.
“I think every season is important if you want to become the player you aspire to be, but yes, this particular season was a critical one for me.”
It ended in Game 5 of the American League Division Series. Davis slumped along with most of the offense, going 5-for-24 with two RBIs and nine strikeouts in the playoffs.
“Losing is never easy, especially not in the playoffs, but the fact that we made it to the ALDS and the way we did it was nothing short of amazing, he said. “We gained a lot of valuable experience on a young team.”
Does he still have room to grow as a player? And I’m not referring to his arms, which could crush an SUV.
“Absolutely,” he said. “If you, as a player, aren’t trying to improve every day, then you’ll be left behind in this game. We had a great season, but we’re all capable of bettering ourselves and reaching our ultimate goal of winning the World Series.”
Maybe the Orioles’ chances will improve with a free agent signing, but Davis isn’t going to be a recruiter.
“I believe everyone has the right to make up their own mind,” he said. “I think we advertised a great product on the field all year long. If you like to win and have fun, come to Baltimore! That’s the best slogan I can throw at you right now. Sorry.”
No apology necessary. I think it would work on a T-shirt.
Will Davis be reporting to spring training with the pitchers and catchers, since, you know, he threw two innings in relief at Fenway Park?
“Let’s all hope not,” he said, laughing.
OK, we can cross that position off the list.
ESPN and FOX Sports reported late Monday night that the Orioles are interested in Jonny Gomes. Keep in mind that Duquette talked to executives from more than half the teams at the GM meetings and also held conversations with five or six agents, so the Orioles can be viewed as having interest in a lot of players. And yes, Gomes is one of them.
The Orioles are placing special emphasis on defense, and unless the scouting reports have changed, I don’t think Gomes rates as a plus-defender in the outfield. He served as Oakland’s designated hitter in 53 games this season.
Gomes is a right-handed hitter with a career .284/.382/.512 line against left-handed pitching, compared to a .223/.307/.425 line against right-handers. He posted a .377 on-base percentage in 99 games for the A’s this season. The Orioles had a .311 OBP that ranked 23rd in the majors.
Could Gomes and Davis, a career .245/.286/.441 hitter against left-handers, share the DH role? Could Davis and Nolan Reimold? Will Davis be the starting first baseman?
Will he record a save next season?