SARASOTA, Fla. - Orioles first baseman Chris Davis spoke with the media for about 10 minutes this morning at his locker before heading out to the field for the first full-squad workout. He discussed how he put on 25 pounds of weight in order to increase his strength. He talked about how he doesn’t want to become a part-time player, one who’s been, in his words, “well below-average.”
He also admitted that he talked to his wife, Jill, late in the season about walking away from the game with three more years left on his franchise-record seven-year, $161 million contract.
They’ll revisit the topic later in the year if he doesn’t become a productive player again.
Davis has $93 million left on his deal, including deferred money, and is coming off a season when he started out 0-for-33 to run his hitless streak to a record 54 at-bats. He slashed .179/.276/.326 with nine doubles, 12 home runs and 36 RBIs in 105 games.
Davis on his offseason workouts:
“The first thing is I basically just got my weight back up. I was really, really thin at the end of the season last year. I think it was a combination of just physical and mental stress and I just got back to kind of some of the basics. I wanted to get my weight back up, get my strength back up, and not focus so much this offseason on trying to stay lean, but really trying to get as strong as I could. Feel a little bit more physical - physically strong, physically fit. And felt like I did what I wanted to do.”
On how he gained the weight:
“I put on about 25 pounds and I know that’s a big number, but I was really, really, really low at the end of the season last year. I wanted to go about it the right way and I think ... I know we talked a little bit toward the end of the season last year, kind of the plan that we had formulated - (Brandon) Hyde, (Mike) Elias and myself - and being able to start that during the end of the season and have some steam built up going into the offseason helped a lot. But I wanted to do it the right way. I wanted to put good weight on and put it on all the right places, and I felt like I was able to do that. Whether it was through nutrition or training, a combination of both.”
On whether he trained differently:
“I did. I was a lot more aggressive. I really wanted to put some weight on and get my strength back up. I didn’t realize how far away I had kind of gotten from that and I think a lot of people will remember me as a younger player being a big, strong guy, and if you look at my career over the years, I’ve tried hard to keep my weight down. I thought it was going to be better for my body. But it hasn’t produced any results, so I figured I’d try something different, something that has proven to work in the past.”
On whether he followed the club’s plan:
“There were a lot of things. It was basically just a bunch of options. The plan that I had going into the offseason was the same thing I started kind of toward the offseason with the weight training, the nutrition and some of the eye stuff and some of the stretching stuff. And together I took that into the offseason. But there were just a multiple of options to go off that. I did a lot of stuff.
“The changes that I was talking about that weren’t drastic, I was referring to the mechanics of my swing and I think that was something that everybody was kind of curious about was, are you going to do anything drastic in the box? And the answer is no. I’m not going to crouch down in my legs, I’m not going to spread out and hit like Albert Pujols. I hit the way that I hit.
“I think a lot of the deficiencies over the past few years have been due to strength. I mean, seeing some of the balls that I’ve hit either be caught at the warning track or at the wall or not even get to the warning track, I think just getting my strength up and being in a better physical position is going to help me with that.”
On whether power brings confidence:
“I think any time that I feel like I can drive the ball out of the ballpark at any point in time, one, that knowledge has given me a confidence boost, but it allows me to go out there and take an easy swing. And when I start trying to gear up and overpower the baseball, it’s when I start getting out of rhythm and kind of getting out of whack and it has always worked against me. So I think the more physically fit I’m going to be, the better off I’m going to be.”
On who he hit with in the offseason:
“A guy, I don’t know if you remember the name Craig Gentry. Craig and I have been friends for a long time. We basically sat down at the beginning of the offseason, he retired last year, and talked about what I wanted to accomplish. And I basically said I wanted to get back down to the basics and I want to do something that it is solely me and you. I want to kind of quiet some of the voices. I felt like it had gotten a little out of control with whose advice I was going to take and what I was going to try to do.
“The blueprint for success is there, but I think it is up to me to follow that and to really take accountability for what I’m doing and for who I’m listening to. So it was good. It was a very productive offseason and I think he might actually be more excited for the season to start than I am, which is kind of fun.”
On whether he’d consider walking away from contract:
“I’d be lying if I told you that wasn’t at least talked about toward the end of the season last year and this offseason. I know what I’m capable of. I know what I expect of myself and I don’t want to continue to just struggle and be a below-average, well below-average producer at the plate. And I don’t think that’s fair to these guys. And I don’t think, honestly, it’s fair to our fans, or to anybody that’s associated with Baltimore. But I still think that there is something left in the tank and I think that that’s really a conversation that we’re going to have to have at the end of this season. Like you said, I have three years left after really two just grinding years, but I still think that there’s some time to kind of right the ship. So that’s a conversation I’ll have to have again at the end of the season.”
On who he spoke with about quitting:
“My wife. Ultimately, my family has priority over everyone else and they know me the best. It was something I just wanted to voice and get out there - kind of the elephant in the room - and we talked about it and I felt like it was a very productive talk and actually a very encouraging talk.”
On whether he talked to anyone in the front office:
“I’ve been very open and very upfront with Mike about where I stand with the organizations. My hopes and my expectations and also the reality of what’s taken place the last couple of years. I’ve been very appreciative and still very grateful for everything they’ve done to try to help me get things going and I look forward to the opportunity this year.”
On a moment when his confidence hit rock bottom:
“I don’t know if you guys remember a couple years ago, I took a two-week break and worked with Brady (Anderson) a little bit and that was probably, for me, the lowest point because I felt like I didn’t really know where to go. I felt like last year was tough, obviously getting off to the start I got off to, but a lot of that was out of my control. And I felt I was kind on the right track last year, but a couple years ago when I had to take the break and work with Brady, there was a lot of hopeless feeling and I think that’s part of taking the break was for me was to kind of give me a chance to take a breath, regroup and do some work where I didn’t have to go out and try to compete that night.
“That’s probably the lowest moment to me, but it was also followed by a lot of positivity, after coming back from two weeks and not having seen a live pitch and having a home run in my second at-bat and seeing a lot of success the first couple weeks back.”
On whether Jill convinced him to keep playing:
“No, and I think once the season ended and I was able to kind of reassess where I was and look at all the things that I had in front of me, and obviously having a plan going into the offseason that I felt like was a very calculated and very constructive plan, that gave me motivation. The only reason I would walk away or would have walked away at the end of the season last year is if I physically felt like I couldn’t do it anymore, and that’s not the case.”
On whether making room for prospects would influence his decision:
“No. It did for a long time in my career. I think I got to a point several years ago where I realized that you can’t really do anything about that. For me now, especially with the overall look of our club, I want to do anything I can to help guys succeed. I think that’s kind of a lost art in our game, having a veteran player take guys aside and show them the way.
“I want to do everything that I can to help those guys. Part of that is competing and bringing the best out of them, and part of that is showing them their limits, and that’s what I plan to do.”
On whether he’d consider being a part-time player:
“It’s hard to say yes right now. Anything I’ve been asked to do, I felt like I’ve always been good about it and done it in a professional manner and handled it in a very professional manner. Right now, I want to be an everyday player. I consider myself an everyday player. I think it’s the case until it’s proven otherwise.”
On whether he needs to have a big spring:
“I would like to have a big spring, just for myself, but I feel like spring training numbers can be a little watered down at times. The goal for me is to get through camp healthy, to be productive. There are a few things that I want to accomplish, that I want to work on, but ultimately there has to be some substance there, so I mean, I’ve always had high expectations for myself, and that hasn’t changed.”