Orioles first baseman Chris Davis is ready to move on from Wednesday night’s dugout incident. Executive vice president and general manager Mike Elias and manager Brandon Hyde feel the exact same way. The matter has been discussed internally, they’ve met individually with the media and now they want to drop it.
Among the important points made today are how Hyde and Davis respect each other and have cleared the air, Davis won’t be fined or face any disciplinary measures, leaving before the game ended won’t bring any sort of punishment, there’s embarrassment and disappointment that the club is cast in a negative light beyond its record and the argument won’t impact how it treats Davis or his contract situation.
“I think it’s been handled well since then,” Elias said today while sitting in the dugout. “Brandon and Chris have talked, as you guys know, but these things are more common than probably people realize. In our situation it’s just very unfortunate that it happened right out in the dugout in the middle of a game and in front of cameras. That’s not where you want these things to take place.
“I think for me the unfortunate aspect of it is it drew some undue negative attention to actually what has been what I think one of the bright points has been this year is the environment here in the clubhouse and on the field and just the overall energy level that these guys are bringing. So it was something uncharacteristic of this team. There’s been a lot of cohesiveness. Brandon and Chris Davis have had a really good relationship. I talked to Chris about it for the first time just a few minutes ago. It’s something that I think is over already.”
Davis had to be restrained by hitting coach Don Long and teammate Mark Trumbo after returning to the dugout in the fifth inning and exchanging words with Hyde, who walked down the tunnel to avoid the cameras. Jace Peterson pinch-hit for Davis, who left the ballpark long before the final out.
“First of all, I don’t know that we’ll give a blow by blow on the aftermath of any of these incidents or what might result from an internal team kind of policy or team clubhouse politics standpoint,” Elias said. “But in this particular case, some temperatures rose in the dugout. Tried to go down in the tunnel and talk about it. It didn’t happen, obviously. And we’ve moved on.
“This is a very isolated incident. There haven’t been any other problems like that with him, and I think all that you take into account when thinking about how to handle things. But we’re very comfortable that everybody’s in a good spot right now.”
Elias won’t react to Davis’ early exit from the ballpark beyond understanding the circumstances.
“It’s not something you want to be a commonplace occurrence on a major league team,” he said. “In fact, it’s very rare. But this was a pretty unique incident and I think that colors it a little differently than just any old player leaving of a game. Again, we’ve talked through all of that as a group and there are aspects of it that we are handling internally.”
Said Hyde: “When the game was over I went in my office and then I came here (auxiliary clubhouse) and for me that wasn’t a time to talk about it anyway, so whatever he did, that’s not something that I’m going to talk about. But it wasn’t something that I was ready to talk to him about, to be honest with you. And so I knew he wasn’t at his locker, but wherever he was at, that doesn’t concern me at all.”
Elias was asked about Davis’ future, including the three years remaining on his $161 million contract beyond the 2019 season.
“I hope he starts playing better and we’ll continue to revisit our plan there,” Elias said. “But I’ve said before, he’s on the team. We don’t have any plans or expectations to alter that fact. He’s under contract and it’s not something I take lightly.
“He’s got a lot of talent and we’re not going to walk away from the fact that he’s talented and he’s here for a while. So we’ll continue to talk to him, we’ll continue to work with him during the season as best we can and we’ll see how the plans are over the offseason. I’ve been keeping in touch with him about his program. This will continue.”
The argument with Hyde won’t influence Davis’ standing in the organization, according to Elias.
“I don’t think so,” he said. “This is not something where they’ve got a poor relationship or where this had any kind of ill effects on the team. I do think what it reflected was the frustration that a guy like Chris goes through when his statistics are what they are and when the team is losing as many games as it’s losing.
“Even though we all kind of understand what this team is organizationally, these are red-blooded guys, these are professional athletes, and we’re out here playing the New York Yankees and they’re dropping home runs on us left and right and we’re down 10 runs or whatever it was. That’s not fun to go through and these things happen.”
Besides speaking with Hyde and Davis, Elias said he also was in contact with ownership.
“They were curious to hear the details of it and we did that,” he said. “I do think that because the visibility of it, it became a little bit more of a major topic than it might ordinarily be.”
The Orioles keep emphasizing the positive relationships that Davis has built with Hyde, Elias and his teammates. They don’t want to paint him as a malcontent who’s hurting morale.
Elias described their relationship as “very good.”
“He’s a veteran,” Elias added. “We talk very openly about the team’s situation and his situation in particular. We’ve had some long discussions, and we continue to do that. He’s got a lot of history on this team. He’s got a lot of history in this city. He’s a very good person. He’s a 10-year big leaguer and there’s a lot that comes with that that puts him in a special position to talk with the front office and about organizational matters and I have a really good relationship with him.”
The team also is stressing how blowups aren’t uncommon in baseball, but usually play out away from the public eye. Nothing out of the ordinary happened Wednesday except for the location.
“You don’t want them to, but they do happen around the league,” Elias said. “You hear about it sometimes. Sometimes it happens in the clubhouse. Emotions run high. Competitive juices flow. These guys compete and losing is not fun. Losing at home badly at home to the Yankees is not fun and it brings out emotions.
“This is not something that’s out of the norm in the course of a baseball season. Not at all.”
The off-day provided a cooling down period for Hyde and Davis. They waited until today to speak, a meeting that lasted more than an hour, according to Davis.
“I thought it went really well,” Hyde said. “It went how I was expecting it where, like I said the other night, we have a lot of respect for each other and we have a really strong relationship. It’s an incident that neither one of us feels good about. But after talking through it with him, we talked at length about a lot of things and feel really good about how it went and I think we’re going to be stronger because of it.
“I think the world of Chris. He’s just an incredible guy. It’s just one of those things that happens at times in competitive environments and in a frustrating situation. And we feel good about moving forward from it.”
Hyde spoke with Elias after Wednesday’s game and again yesterday over the phone, and they had another meeting this afternoon.
“We discussed what happened that night. We’ve discussed how we were going to handle it and things I was going to talk to Chris about,” Hyde said.
“I talked to Mike after Chris and I talked and I think he’s happy that we’re moving on and I think he’s pleased with how it’s been handled.”
The downside to waiting until today to meet with Davis was how the incident kept eating away at Hyde.
“It’s been a tough 48 hours to be 100 percent honest, however many hours it’s been,” he said. “I don’t like reading about myself and I don’t like that being the spotlight of what our club is about, which I think is the exact opposite. So that really bothered me. It stayed with me yesterday and woke up today and was looking forward to seeing Chris, to be honest with you. Couldn’t wait to talk to him about it.
“I thought we needed a breather yesterday and woke up today, texted him and couldn’t wait to get to the ballpark and talk to him.”
Was there an apology delivered today?
“It was more of like, let’s talk about what happened and let’s go through from both of our standpoints and just clear the air on it and understanding where both of us were coming from,” Hyde said.
This appears to be the first conflict between them.
Davis has praised Hyde’s managing and leadership. Hyde as backed Davis throughout his slumps and complimented his work ethic.
“I think I’ve talked to Chris more than I’ve talked to any player this season, so we’ve had a ton of great conversations and I think we’ve become close and he is in my office (often),” Hyde said.
“We talk frequently about a lot of things. And that was just a frustrating moment for both of us and we’ve moved on from it.
The exchange Wednesday was sort of like an imperfect storm of Davis’s frustration over his failure to scoop Jonathan Villar’s throw, another blowout loss developing and his season-long struggles at the plate. His venting as he walked into the dugout include a thrown batting helmet and Hyde’s irritation over the scene.
“I think it’s never going to be easy all the way through for a sixth-month season,” Hyde said. “There’s going to be bumps in the road and there’s going to be tough conversations and there’s going to be ... When you’re managing, you’re managing people and all different kinds of personalities and different environments and from different places. Sometimes there’s, like in any family, there’s arguments or times when it’s not smooth. That was unfortunate that it was caught on camera. But I think that was probably a build-up of some frustration from him and I get a little frustrated from how he was handling it and that’s how it started.
“I think he came off the field really frustrated about his play or whatever it was and I got frustrated with how he was responding to his frustration and what happened. I thought some things were inappropriate and I called him out on it. I wish now that I would have pulled him down in the tunnel and not have everybody see that or see the end of what it was, but that was just being reactionary to something that I didn’t think was right.
“I wish I would have handled it a little bit differently. I would have taken him down in the tunnel so that nobody would have saw what was going on, but it was so quick and then that’s why you see me go down the tunnel because I’m realizing at that point that there are cameras here and let me get out of here and try to get him down there.”
Hyde didn’t want to go into detail over what set him off, whether he was hit on the foot by a batting helmet.
“Anybody that’s been in a Major League Baseball dugout, there’s guys that snap, there’s equipment slammed and there’s all sorts of things,” he said. “I’m not going to get into the specifics of that, but that’s not uncommon where people get angry and show frustration by slamming a helmet or whatever may be.”
Davis is out of tonight’s lineup, which Hyde said was “pre-planned.” And he also confirmed that Davis wasn’t disciplined.
With right-hander Aaron Sanchez starting for the Astros Saturday night, the chances improve that Davis will return to first base and the bottom portion of the order. He’ll be scrutinized as usual, though with another reason added to it.
He’s held to a certain standard. The veteran status and, of course, the contract.
“Well, I think he does as well,” Hyde said. “We talked a lot about that. I think that’s part of his disappointment is that being one of the very few veteran players we have on this team and handling things correctly. He’s done a great job all year and that’s why I think this incident is unfortunate for everybody because, really been pleased with how he’s handled himself in the clubhouse.
“I love our relationship. Listen, he only knows what he has gone through and it’s not easy and he’s had a tough time offensively for a couple years and we’ve tried to help him through all of that. I know there’s frustration there. I get it. It’s not easy to play in the big leagues and he’s got expectations of himself that he’s not living up to. It’s not easy. I think he’s handled himself incredibly well this whole year and I know he’s going to handle himself well the rest of the year.
“I have a ton of respect for the veteran player and I think that any ... I think I handle all situations differently. For me, accountability and taking responsibility for your actions, being a good teammate, is a huge priority and that’s something I’ve always had a high standard for, how people interact and treat others and play the game the right way and treat teammates the right way.
“Like we’ve talked about before, a lot about how our atmosphere in our clubhouse I think is awesome, so, that’s why it’s disappointing to me that this happened, because I feel like we’ve done a lot of really nice things here from a team-atmosphere standpoint and a culture standpoint. And I think anybody in that clubhouse would tell you how great of an environment we’ve created, even though it’s really hard to do when your team is a last-place club right now. So I feel great about that, so that’s why that incident hurt that people saw that because it is really the opposite of what this has been about the whole time. So I don’t know. It’s just an unfortunate deal.
Update: Alex Bregman’s two-out double and Yordan Álvarez’s single produced two runs in the first inning.
Update II: Peterson’s home run off Wade Miley in the fifth reduced the lead to 2-1.
Update III: Jose Altuve’s RBI triple off Shawn Armstrong in the seventh increased the lead to 3-1.
Update IV: Stevie Wilkerson homered off Joe Smith in the seventh to leave the Orioles trailing 3-2.