BOSTON - Chris Davis has reached base in 16 consecutive games, but it’s not a cause to celebrate. His average is down to .241 and he’s stuck on one home run after clubbing 53 last season.
Cause for alarm? Not yet. Better to make light of it and keep grinding.
“I turned over a new leaf this year. I’m trying not to hit any more home runs this year and just walk,” Davis quipped. “Try to swing as few times as possible, take it easy on my body, try to get as many years out of it as possible.”
Sounds like a plan. But seriously...
“Yeah, guys have been pitching me differently,” he said. “Who should be thanking me are the guys around me because they’re raking. In front of me, behind me, it doesn’t matter, which is good because they’ve been picking me up.
“Just kind of been trying to take what they give me early on. It’s kind of good and bad at the same time. Last year, I got off to the best start of my career, was locked in from Day 1 and just kind of rode it out for the whole season. This year, obviously not quite as hot as I was last year. But getting a chance to see a lot of pitches, being patient, which is not something that I’m used to.”
Davis’ career high in stolen bases is four and he’s halfway there after 17 games, tying him for the team lead.
“Stealing some bags,” he said. “Watch out David Lough. Jonesy (Adam Jones) has two now, so I’m probably going to steal a couple today.”
Davis leads the Orioles with 10 walks, two more than runner-up Nelson Cruz. He also leads in hit-by-pitches with three. Tough to get comfortable at the plate under those circumstances.
“I feel like, really, the last couple of games, my swing has started to come around a little bit, my timing’s starting to get there,” he said. “And hopefully, I can start hitting some more homers again.”
Perhaps if the roof is closed at Rogers Centre in Toronto for the upcoming series. Anything to escape the cold that has contributed to his slow start.
“There’s no doubt about it,” he said. “You don’t want to make any excuses, but at the same time, when your hands are freezing, the ball’s not traveling, the pitcher definitely has an advantage. But you’ve got to go out there and find ways to score runs.
“I think that’s one of the reasons we’ve played so many close games early is because we’ve been in some pretty cold weather, had some rain in Detroit, which was nice. You’ve got to grind it out. The first month of the season is always tough, especially with the kind of winter we had. It snowed in Dallas, which tells you how cold it was. But that’s part of it.”
Davis has come close to clearing the fences in a few at-bats, but the ball has died on the track.
“It’s crazy, because last year I felt so comfortable in the box that I wasn’t trying to do too much. I was just letting the ball travel and everything was leaving,” he said. “Probably a little of that was due to the fact that we started in a dome (Tropicana Field) where it was warm, but I’m not real upset with the way I’ve been swinging the bat this year. I’ve been taking what they give me. I’m trying to not do too much. There’s been games where I’ve been a little impatient and try to be a little too aggressive, but for the most part I feel like I’m doing my job right now.
“I think a lot of it is patience, which, as aggressive as I am in the box, it’s hard. But I think it’s going to pay off toward the end of the season. Last year after the All-Star break, guys really made an adjustment and started to be a lot more careful in how they pitched me, and that’s continued this year. Guys go up there and throw me four straight changeups or four straight split-fingers. It’s kind of a coin flip. So, that’s good. See as many pitches as I can early and hopefully once it starts to heat up, the balls start flying again.”
Pitchers are locating inside more consistently against Davis this season.
“I think last year a lot of times, it was just for show to try to get me off the pitch away and try to move my feet a little bit,” he said. “This year, they’re locating a little better. They have the advantage, man. When it’s cold, you’re trying to get the head out. I’ve rolled over a few pitches that were inside that I couldn’t quite stay through.
“It’s coming along. I said last year, I wish I could bottle up the feeling I had. I’d be a really rich man if I could sell that. But, it’s part of it.”
Shameless plug alert: I’m doing a live hit from Fenway Park for “O’s Xtra” that starts at 10:30 a.m. on MASN HD.