ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. - Chris Davis wasn’t in today’s lineup until putting in the request with manager Buck Showalter. He’s back at first base to close out a season that he termed “inexcusable.”
Davis asked to meet with the Orioles beat writers at Tropicana Field, joking that he wanted to let his hair down and “maybe get a little emotional.” But he turned serious as soon as the recorders were running.
“It’s one of the more frustrating seasons that I can remember, just with the (oblique) injury early on and the inconsistency and then, obviously, not being in the postseason, finishing below .500,” he said. “It hasn’t been a fun season for the most part, but definitely looking forward to the offseason, getting a chance to recharge, regroup and reset my sights.
“There are definitely some things that I want to work on as far as mechanics are concerned at the plate. I talked about it a little bit the other day, just things I need to do to be a little more consistent.”
Davis began today batting .216/.311/.426 with 26 home runs, 61 RBIs and 193 strikeouts in 127 games. There’s a lot of work to do, but Davis thinks it can be accomplished without a total renovation. He’s already discussed it with hitting coach Scott Coolbaugh.
“I hope so. Honestly, I do,” he said. “I understand that the game is evolving in that, with the defensive shifts and the way bullpens are constructed now, I understand that it’s getting harder for guys to get hits. But I just feel like, as a veteran player, you have to be able to make an adjustment, and I did not do a good job of that this year on a day-to-day basis, and it showed.
“Like I said, it’s been extremely frustrating for a number of reasons, but one of the main reasons being that I just feel like there were so many nights out there when I was just a name in the lineup. I didn’t feel like I had contributed. Maybe defensively, but definitely not with my bat. And I look at the numbers now and the year as a whole and I feel like I’m a better player than that, and I feel like these guys deserve a better product than what I’ve been giving them.
“If you want to call it a chip on my shoulder or motivated or whatever, I definitely have some things I’m looking forward to working on.”
Both mental and mechanical.
“I think a lot of that goes hand in hand,” he said. “I think there were times when I felt good and, for whatever reason, I wasn’t able to consistently produce. And then there were times where I felt like it was kind of an uphill battle. And I think that’s where you see a lot of the called third strikes.
“That bothers me. And anybody who’s watched me play at all over the past few years knows I’m an aggressive hitter. I like to swing the bat. I think that’s obvious. So, that in itself was inexcusable and it’s extremely frustrating. But I think there are definitely mechanical things that I can do to give myself a better chance, and ultimately, at the end of the day that’s all you can do.
“I’ve already had several conversations with Cooley about things that I want to try, things that I want to do to keep myself in a better position and not have so much head movement in my swing. It’s kind of been my downfall throughout my whole career. So, I’m excited about this offseason and things that I really want to work on.”
Davis has been fighting a losing battle trying to live up to his seven-year, $161 million contract, a deal that fans reference on a daily basis on social media as his average plummets and the strikeouts rise.
“I think there was a point in time where I was doing too much,” he said. “I think maybe there was the injury. Maybe that was one of the reasons that I got hurt earlier this year, trying to do too much, trying to overdo it, but I think I’ve been pretty clear over the years that I have a special place in my heart for our fans. They were a lot of the reason that I was so excited to come back here.
“I still remember the last day of the season in ‘15, the way that I felt, the way the fans embraced me. I do feel a great responsibility to be the player that I know that I’m capable of being. I understand their frustration. I share in their frustration. There has to be something else taking place. You can’t say, ‘I understand you’re frustrated’ and not make an adjustment.
“As far as that’s concerned, I have several years left here and, hopefully, a lot of good baseball still in front of me. I look forward to the challenge.”
Davis doesn’t think the club needs to go into a full rebuilding mode. Like everyone else in the clubhouse, he insists that it can make a playoff run in 2018 with some tweaking.
“I don’t think scrapping it and starting it from ground zero is the best thing for us,” he said. “A lot of times when you see organizations do that, you have a lot of young players. They have a lot of depth in the minor leagues they want to groom and bring up to the big league level. I think that we have a lot of guys that are proven, a lot of guys that maybe have a small window of opportunity to be successful together, and I feel like the foundation is there.
“You see the playoff runs every other year for however many years. I definitely think it’s just a step away, and I hope that our ownership feels the same way. I hope they feel that sense of urgency and they feel that we’re a lot closer than further away.”
Davis said he’s willing to meet with managing partner Peter G. Angelos, as center fielder Adam Jones has vowed to do again over dinner, and offer his input on what needs to be done.
“Absolutely, I’m always open to sitting down with Peter and talking about the future of the team, the expectations, the goals, the concerns,” Davis said. “I’m 100 percent in on that. I think the more you have those discussions, the more open about what you expect and what you want to see happen, the better it is for the team.
“There’s a lot going on. I would welcome that.”
The first order of offseason business is an obvious one. Davis is just the latest to point it out.
“I think it’s been pretty clear all season. We have to be more consistent with our pitching,” Davis said. “I say that knowing that it’s not easy to go out there and lock up a front-line starter. There’s a lot more work required that goes into it. We talked about the last few years the growing and experience that Gaus (Kevin Gausman) and (Dylan) Bundy needed and were going to get, and I can see them make strides in the right direction, and we’ve seen the potential there, and it looks pretty good.
“Do we need a veteran guy? Do we need a solid ace? I don’t know the answer to that question. I think that’s something that we’re really going to have to sit down and discuss and think about, but I just think there has to be more consistency, and that’s not to say that we don’t need to do things as far as our lineup is concerned to be a little more versatile, not so much all or nothing, but I mean there has to be consistency throughout, the pitching staff, the lineup, the defense. And I just feel like this year that was probably our biggest Achilles heel was our inconsistency.”