Davis on his slump and the nightly shifts

Bud Norris threw his bullpen session today at Camden Yards and manager Buck Showalter said he should have an update later today.

Norris is eligible to come off the disabled list on Monday. Showalter indicated that the right-hander would need to pitch in a rehab or simulated game before the club activated him. Norris won’t go directly from a side session to the Orioles rotation.

davis-helmet-looking-out-sidebar.jpgFirst baseman Chris Davis took some swings off a tee while Showalter and hitting coach Jim Presley offered instruction and feedback. The session was held on the field rather than in the privacy of the indoor batting cage.

“It was just something that we had talked about,” said Davis, who’s hitless in his last 19 at-bats and mired in a 10-for-80 slump that’s lowered his average to .205.

“Obviously, Buck being such a great power hitter that he was, he sees a lot of himself in me.”

Davis couldn’t keep a straight face.

“I can’t go with that,” he said. “No, we talked a little bit the last few days, just how I’m feeling and everything. I told him I feel like I’m seeing the ball well. Had some tough at-bats. Had some borderline pitches here and there that could have gone either way. I really think I’m seeing the ball well, hit some balls hard. It’s just part of it.

“It feels like when you’re locked in, every ball that you put in play finds a hole. Every ball that you put in play seems to catch the grass. But when you’re trying to get something going, you’re squaring balls up and they’ve got 27 people in right field, you don’t have a real good chance of getting a hit. But I feel good. That’s the thing.

“We just kind of talked about my bat path a little bit. Little things here and there. He’s seen me play quite a bit the last few years, and obviously when I was in Texas, and he just had some things he wanted to talk to me about. And they were helpful. That’s the beautiful thing about playing for this team is, everybody’s always willing to help everybody. That’s one of the reasons we’ve been so successful the last few years.”

Davis lined another ball into shallow right field last night, in the teeth of the shift, that the second baseman caught. Looks like a hit leaving the bat, goes down as another out on the score sheet.

“The first few weeks when that was happening, it was frustrating because it’s not just the shift, because I’ve been shifted in the past,” Davis said. “It’s the overshift, if you want to call it that. The second baseman playing five feet off the right field line. And those are the things I had to get used to.

“You know they’re pitching me to hit into the shift. Last year, there were times they were shifting me and then pitching me to go the other way, so it worked to my advantage. But as far as frustration, as long as we’re winning ballgames... Guys have been picking me up all year and that’s what it’s about. There were times last year when I was picking guys up and the tables have kind of turned this year, but as long as we’re winning ballgames and I’ve got a chance to be in there every day, that’s all you can ask for.”

Davis was accustomed to hitting against shifts last season while bashing 53 home runs. That’s not the issue.

“It’s just a harder shift, I think,” he said. “I don’t necessarily think they’re shifting me more often than not. I don’t actually know if we’ve played anybody who hasn’t shifted me, and laying down a bunt or even bluffing a bunt, it ain’t moving anybody.

“That’s something I’ve also got to work a little bit harder at is bunting down the first base line. It’s a lot more comfortable for a left-handed hitter because you just kind of pull it with you. Going the other way is a little bit tougher. And I obviously haven’t bunted a lot in the past, but I just think it’s a harder shift this year. The second baseman is playing further over. Some teams have the third baseman there. It’s just more exaggerated this year.”

As part of today’s early hitting session, the Orioles placed the tee on the outer half of the plate.

“A number of swings this year I’ve really been pulling off the ball or hooking the ball, and that was something that in the past I’ve always done really well at going the other way, staying through the ball,” Davis said. “It’s not necessarily about trying to hit everything to left field, because that’s actually what (Showalter) said. He said, ‘We’re not trying to teach you how to hit the ball the other way. You know how to hit the ball the other way.’ Just trying to stay through the ball a little more.

“There were a couple pitches last night that I had that were up over the plate, good pitches to drive the other way, and I pulled off them and fouled them off, hooked one down the right field line. That’s when you know you’re not right. Those pitches, when you’re going good, are driven the other way. The pitch middle-in has been something that I’ve actually handled really well this year. Just continue to reenforce staying through the ball.”

For the Rangers
Shin-Soo Choo DH
Elvis Andrus SS
Carlos Pena 1B
Adrian Beltre 3B
Alex Rios RF
Leonys Martin CF
Chris Gimenez C
Rougned Odor 2B
Michael Choice LF

Miles Mikolas RHP

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