TAMPA - Orioles first baseman Chris Davis returned to the lineup tonight here versus the Yankees and went 1-for-2 with an RBI single. It was his first game action since March 3, as he’s been out with a sore left hip.
Davis began this game 1-for-12 with a homer and seven strikeouts in spring games. In the O’s first, batting as the designated hitter versus right-hander Jonathan Loaisiga, he took three straight strikes. But an inning later, with the Orioles rallying for five runs, he lined a single to left that gave the Orioles a 6-2 lead.
“It felt good to get back in game action and see some different jerseys,” Davis said outside the Orioles clubhouse at George M. Steinbrenner Field. “Obviously, the first at-bat didn’t go the way I planned it. I felt like I saw the ball well. First at-bat a little in between, a little hesitant, and then the second at-bat, you know, I saw the ball well. Felt like I took a good swing on the second pitch. Didn’t try to do too much. Hard line drive the other way was a good sign.”
Now Davis, after missing eight games, will try to get enough at-bats to be ready for opening day. He feels he can do that, even without playing every day the rest of the way.
“Honestly, I feel like I’m seeing the ball well,” he said. “My timing is getting better. Most of the time when I am taking pitches that are in the strike zone or around the strike zone, it’s because I’m getting caught in between, but not on the latter side of that. Feel like I’m getting in the hitting position so much earlier than in the past.”
Davis was due to lead off the top of the fifth, but Ryan McKenna hit for him and grounded out versus Aroldis Chapman. Davis felt he was pulled because the last of the fourth went long, as New York scored two runs.
At FanFest, Davis talked about trying to get back a feel that was missing when he batted last year. Even during this spring, which was interrupted by the injury, is that happening?
“I have started to see it more in BP,” Davis said. “And that’s a big thing for me. I know it’s just BP, but sometimes I can get into bad habits trying to launch or lift the ball. But I’ve tried to stay grounded this spring. Tried to stay committed to the approach I have and hit line drives in BP. Today was the first day I felt like some of those line drives started to leave the yard. I’m just going to have to continue to work and continue to do everything I can to get ready for the season.”
Davis has taken a lot of pitches this spring, including in his first time up tonight. Some of that, said Davis, is by design.
“Early on, I wanted to try and see as many pitches as I could,” he said. “It’s tough in spring training because a lot of times, you have at-bats against guys trying to make an impression and you take two pitches and you’re down 0-2. For me, the biggest thing is just getting into a rhythm, getting into a position, where I feel like I am seeing the ball well. Even if I am taking a lot of called strikes, it’s more about what I’m seeing and how I’m feeling. That was my plan going in and the next few weeks, it’s time to start swinging a little bit.”
The Orioles now lead this game 7-5 in the seventh. Austin Hays hit a solo homer this inning and has four RBIs in the game. Hays leads the Orioles with 11 RBIs and his four homers are tied for the club lead with Chance Sisco.
Update: Mychal Givens gave up three runs in the home eighth as the Yankees rallied for an 8-7 victory over the Orioles.