The criticism is always there for the Orioles’ Chris Davis. He knows it’s deserved when you are batting .189/.274/.332 with an OPS of .605. This is a player that produced an OPS of 1.004 in 2013 and .923 in 2015.
He knows it is coming because he signed the big contract and has underperformed by a big margin. But he can’t get that back now. He’s dealing with it and trying his best to handle it.
“It’s always a challenge,” he said over the weekend in Toronto. “But as you get older and as you gain a little more experience and a little better perspective, you learn how to deal with the criticism and you take it in stride. I still expect a lot from myself day in and day out. No one’s more frustrated at the end of the day when I struggle than I am.
“I know that each day brings a new opportunity and another chance to go out there and flip the script. That is kind of what I try to focus on. Instead of focusing on the negative, I try to take something positive away from each day and go in there each and every day with a refreshed, renewed attitude.”
Davis homered Tuesday at Tampa Bay and Friday in Toronto when he drove in three runs. He’s 6-for-12 the last four games and is 10-for-26 over his past eight games, batting .385/.448/.654.
But beyond his own play, Davis has discovered what he called a “rejuvenating jolt of energy” with his younger Orioles 2019 teammates.
He looks around and can relate to young players trying to establish themselves and show they can play in the majors. He looks around and sees a together team that brings energy every night. He looks around and sees a rebuilding process under leadership he believes in.
“It’s been pretty cool to see it come back to me full circle,” he said. “Being a rookie and really having a lot to prove and feeling like I wanted to make my mark and establish myself as a big league player. And now being in the veteran seat and watching these guys kind of do the same thing. Seeing the hunger in their eyes and seeing how motivated they are, it’s been pretty cool to watch.
“Just love their attitude day in and day out. The energy that they bring. I feel like this is a talented, young group of guys that is extremely hungry and really trying to take advantage of this opportunity to play in the big leagues. And to really learn as much as they can about, not only themselves, but the team and what it takes to win at this level. It’s been a lot of fun so far. I see a lot of things that I’m really encouraged by. As a veteran player it’s a rejuvenating jolt of energy to see that.”
Davis’ seven-year deal that he signed in January of 2016 runs through the 2022 season. Will the Orioles cut him loose before the end of the deal if the numbers continue to not be there?
Davis can only prepare to honor his deal from his end and try and help the Orioles build a better future in any way he can. He said he’s very confident in executive vice president and general manager Mike Elias and the staff he has put together.
“I think we have the right guy in place with Mike and with Sig (Mejdal) and our coaching staff. We’ve done a great job of preparing ourselves each day and I like the things that Mike has done outside the lines and where his focus is. I signed a long-term deal and when I signed that I expected to continue to win. I knew it wasn’t guaranteed. Last year and this year are tough but I’ve seen a lot of encouraging things already and I look forward to what the future holds.”
Davis said he believes the Orioles can do what the Houston Astros did and go from 100 losses to a World Series winner.
“I can forsee that. I hope it’s not too many years down the road. But I think that’s the direction we are headed. It’s evident to me in everyday things we do before the game and conversations guys are having and really the mindset we have once the game starts. We are taking steps in the right direction.”
Early this season at Camden Yards, as Davis was trying to snap his long hitless stretch, fans at Camden Yards cheered for him and encouraged him. That was very appreciated, he said. He believes Orioles fans understand where the team is at right now and understand the rebuilding process.
“There is no doubt. You know the term rebuild was thrown out when we traded those guys (last July). Sometimes you can get lost in the rebuilding idea and start focusing on things you are not doing well and neglect things you are doing well. I know we don’t have a winning record now, but we’re in a better place than we were in the middle of the season or the end of the season last year.
“I expected this to be a fun group of guys. I didn’t know we were going to mesh and jell as quickly as we have. A lot has to do with the environment we’re in each day. It’s a positive environment that breeds together and really playing as a team and doing your part. Pick up guys, whether it’s verbally, on defense or at the plate. That has translated well in our clubhouse and guys are really buying into it,” said Davis.