Chris Davis on hitting approach, contract pressure and more

It won’t be long before Chris Davis’ family, which already includes wife Jill and daughter Ella, will expand with the arrival of twin girls.

“We’re going to go from man-to-man coverage to a zone real quick in our house, but we’re fired up about it,” Davis said this week while interviewed on the “Orioles Hot Stove Show” on 105.7 The Fan.

“I couldn’t be happier. We always said that we wanted at least three. I’m still pushing for maybe four, but it’s probably not the best time to be pushing for that. But we’re excited and we’re ready to see both girls.”

If only Davis would regain the same impeccable timing at the plate.

Davis continues to work with Orioles hitting coach Scott Coolbaugh in Texas and said he’s focused on being more aggressive early in his at-bats rather than falling into pitchers counts and jacking up his strikeout total - especially called third strikes, which led the majors in 2017.

Davis doesn’t consider himself to be a “guess hitter,” which eliminates one explanation.

“Honestly, I think that I try to go up there and have a solid approach,” he said. “I feel like I put together enough information over the years that I have a pretty good idea of what teams are going to do to me. That obviously changes from series to series, but for me, the game is hard enough as it is. You’re going to go up there and sit on a pitch or guess, you’re really making it a lot harder than it has to be.

Chris-Davis-run-white-sidebar.jpg“An educated guess, if you want to call it that, having an idea of what they’re going to throw, when they’re going to throw it, is something that plays into it, but I’ve never been a guy who’s gone up there and said, ‘You know what? I’m going to sit on this pitch and wait for him to throw it.’ Because honestly there have been times when I’ve been going really well and I thought - this is going to sound ridiculous - I thought what I hit was something completely different. You know what I mean? Just the way that guys are able to spin the ball now, the way that guys are able to add and subtract on their velo, you really just have to go up there and look for a zone, where you’re looking to do the most damage.”

The shift has perplexed Davis - anyone who follows the team should know that he’s frequently been retired on balls that otherwise would have fallen into right field - and he’s devoting part of his sessions with Coolbaugh to finding solutions. He knows that teams will continue to work him inside.

“That’s kind of the problem that you run into,” he said. “I felt like there was a point in the season where I was really trying so hard consciously to go the other way that I was missing pitches on the inner half that I could have done a lot of damage with. And it’s two-fold. You want to go up there and look for a pitch that you can do something with, but at the same time you don’t want to manipulate your swing to where you’re carving a pitch that’s inside to the left side for a weak ground ball or a popup.

“They say it’s a game of adjustments and that couldn’t be truer as it pertains to me and it’s something I’m going to have to be conscious of and continue to make adjustments and I’m looking forward to the challenge.”

No challenge is greater than living up to a seven-year, $161 contract. No one is going to feel sorry for Davis. That’s not the intent here. But it’s brought pressure that he carries to and from the plate.

“I think it affects me a little bit more than I thought it was going to the last couple of years and that’s on me,” Davis said. “I mean, I agreed to the contract. I wanted to be in Baltimore. They did everything in their power to keep me there and I’m grateful for that. And I wanted to be there a lot for the fans, too. I remember the 2015 season, specifically the last game against the Yankees where I had the two home runs and homered in my last at-bat. I just remember walking off the field thinking, ‘Man, is this going to be the last time that I see these faces in the crowd? Is this going to be the last time that I put on this uniform?’

“It was a very emotional moment for me and I think that so much, I wanted to be the player that I know I’m capable of being that at times I’ve pressed. And I’ve always put a ton of pressure on myself. You guys know that. You’ve been around me for a number of years. I’ve always held myself to an extremely high standard and I think there were times when I let it get to me a little bit, but you know what? You learn from your mistakes, you grow and you move forward.

“I can’t say it enough, I’m extremely pleased with this offseason and the way things have gone and I’m champing at the bit to get back out there.”

As long as he isn’t the only left-handed hitter. Executive vice president Dan Duquette is searching for at least one more.

“I really like the lineup that we have,” Davis said. “We have the potential to do a lot of damage with the power from one to nine. I think what we had last year with Craig Gentry at times, having that speed, was huge for us because you put a guy on the basepaths that can really take the pitcher’s full attention away from the hitter and they’re more likely to make more mistakes. As a run-producer, you love hitting with guys in scoring position.

“I think it’s going to be interesting. Obviously, the elephant in the room is the starting pitching. We’re going to need some guys to step up and I’m hopeful that we can add those guys and that the guys we have who have really made strides the last few years can step up and continue to progress.

“I know it’s getting close to spring training, but I feel like every year teams just wait longer and longer to make moves, so I’m extremely hopeful and confident that our front office will do what they need to do to put us in the position to win.”

With five years left on his contract and surrounded by pending free agents, Davis knows he could be the one constant on a team that’s lined up to undergo some significant changes.

“It is a little weird knowing moving forward that I’m the one guy that is contractually locked up for the Orioles and I hope that their thought process is building a team around me. I don’t want to say in a selfish way, but I hope that they’re thinking, ‘OK, what do we need to add to continue to compete?’ Because I don’t want to hear the dreaded ‘rebuilding.’

“I feel like we have, really, the foundation of a winning ballclub and we’ve proven that we can compete in the AL East year after year and I think we took a lot of steps backward in a lot of facets of the game last year, but I still think that we are a competitive team and I think we have the ability to add the pieces that we need to be a championship team. So I hope that the attitude is the same.

“I have all the confidence in the world in our front office. They’ve done a tremendous job over the years giving us what we need to compete and I think that will continue.”

While Davis is pushing for the club to bring in the necessary pieces, he also tips his cap to the young prospects who auditioned in September and could break camp with the team in March.

“That’s the beautiful thing about having guys who have been around the game, guys like myself, Jonesy (Adam Jones), Manny (Machado), Schoopy (Jonathan Schoop) now coming into his own last year and Mark (Trumbo),” Davis said. “Guys in the lineup who have proven that they can do it year in and year out. And you have the ability and the freedom to give an Austin Hays, a Trey Mancini, one of those younger guys, maybe a Chance Sisco the chance to really grow and learn at the big league level because in my opinion those guys have proven everything that they need to prove at the big league level. Their next step is, OK, can they do it consistently at the big league level?

“I was fired up last year at the end of the season about Austin Hays. I had heard a lot of great things about him and I was ecstatic that the Orioles decided to make the move to call him up and give him a chance. And I really like what he brings to the table.

“Obviously, Chance, his reputation preceded him. These guys are exciting. They’re good young players, they’re good kids, they have good heads on their shoulders and I’m excited to see what they can do moving forward.”

* There’s really nothing new to report regarding Machado and the trade talks.

I’ve heard that the Yankees and Red Sox have been “secondary players” throughout the process relative to the Cardinals initially and the Diamondbacks and White Sox. I’m told again that the Diamondbacks doubled back with renewed interest.

No one has offered up a suitable package for Machado, with starting pitching a priority. It’s the same refrain.

* In case you missed yesterday’s tweet, former Orioles pitcher Tyler Wilson signed with the LG Twins of the Korean Baseball Organization. He’s teammates again with outfielder Hyun Soo Kim.

Wilson will receive $800,000 on his one-year deal, according to Yonhap News Agency.

The Orioles outrighted Wilson in September and he became a minor league free agent following the season. The 10th-round pick in 2011 out of the University of Virginia was 8-10 with a 5.02 ERA in parts of three seasons with the Orioles.

Former Orioles pitcher Logan Verrett already signed with the KBO’s NC Dinos. Former minor league pitcher Jason Wheeler signed with the KBO’s Hanwha Eagles.

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