He got bigger.
To say the least, many were skeptical when they heard that. The revelation came after Davis said that he did not make any swing changes over the winter. At 34, he said, he hits the way he hits.
But getting bigger was part of the plan.
“One of those (adjustments I made) is just my overall strength and weight,” Davis said. “We looked at a lot of video from the past, and one of the first things that Mike (Elias) and Brandon (Hyde) and actually (coach) Tim Cossins and a couple of our coaches said were, ‘Man you were a lot bigger when you were younger.’
“The older I’ve gotten, the more I’ve tried to keep my weight down, thinking it would be more beneficial to my body. Thinking that, as you get older, your joints and ligaments tend to carry less weight a little bit better.
“For me, I’ve got to be strong. That has always kind of been my forte. If I feel I can hit any pitch at anytime out of any part of the ballpark, I’m not going to overswing and do some things that I’ve done in the past to shoot myself in the foot. The physical aspect of it - the weight training and conditioning and nutrition - was a huge part of it.”
The spring training returns for the bigger Davis were impressive. He went 7-for-15 with three homers and nine RBIs. He fanned just three times and walked nine. He batted .467/.615/1.067.
Why Davis might have a solid season: Being bigger and stronger seemed to produce more confidence for Davis. Where he looked confused and unsure of himself at the plate often in recent seasons, he looked the opposite of that in spring games.
He was simply tracking the ball so much better. He wasn’t taking pitches down the middle and wasn’t swinging at pitches off the plate. For whatever reason, he was seeing the ball so much better.
And Davis was easily taking pitches to left field during the spring. He pledged during that January radio interview to do that. We were seeing that in Florida. We know Davis can hit the ball out to all fields, but if he can produce a few more singles in that direction too, that could be big for him.
Why Davis might struggle again: Well, it was only spring training. It was encouraging, but the game is filled with players that tore it up during spring training and then hit .200 in April.
Orioles executive vice president and general manager Mike Elias discussed Davis during an Orioles.com broadcast in Florida. He noted that he was encouraged with what he had seen but also said he was not sure what it would mean when the regular season started.
“I don’t know,” said Elias. “I’m hoping so (that it carries over). As a scout and a talent evaluator, and our coaches will agree, he just does look better. The way he’s going about things, the way he’s managing things, the way the ball is coming off his bat.
“I would hope to think that translates, but spring training is spring training. Sometimes the lights go on and pitchers are working on attack plans and advanced analytics comes out where they are pitching with attack plans. Teams aren’t doing that as much in spring training.”
Davis said this week he believes that he can take what he started this spring into the regular season, whenever that may be.
“I am confident that I can pick up where I left off,” Davis said Monday in a conference call with Orioles reporters. “I think that’s one of the - if you’re optimistic, which I’ve been trying to be - I feel like that’s something that I can look at as a positive. While I didn’t get to continue to go out there and get regular game at-bats, I know once we start up again I’ll have an opportunity to go back out there and get more comfortable, get more at-bats, get more of a feel for where I want to be. But it was nice to see some results and to give me a little peace of mind that what I’m doing this offseason really worked and to just continue doing that. And that’s what I’ve done.”