Orioles' Davis using disappointing 2017 season as motivation
(AP Photo/Lynne Sladky, File)
SARASOTA, Fla. (AP) Chris Davis doesn't want to forget about last season. The Baltimore Orioles first baseman wants to improve on it.
Davis had 26 home runs and 61 RBIs last year. Those numbers might not be bad for many players, but for Davis they were a huge disappointment. He signed a seven-year, $161 million deal in January 2016 and led the major leagues in home runs with 53 in 2013 and 47 in 2015.
He missed a month with an oblique injury last season and hit just .215 and struck out 195 times in 128 games.
"There were too many called third strikes," Davis said. "There were too many called first strikes. There were too many times when I was starting the at-bat 0-2 and hadn't even swung the bat, hadn't taken the bat off my shoulder. That's just not who I am as a hitter. It never has been."
In recent years, the Orioles have been a power-laden team. Last season, they had eight players who hit more than 20 home runs, and all of them except for catcher Welington Castillo have returned.
"We have pretty much the same lineup that we've had the last few years," Davis said. "I don't think scoring runs has really been a problem for us. Obviously defensively we took some steps backward last year and we obviously didn't really pitch the way we wanted to pitch."
Baltimore finished 75-87 last year, its first losing season since 2011 when Davis arrived from Texas in a July trade. The Orioles lost 19 of their final 23 games.
"There wasn't a whole lot to celebrate last year," Davis said. "It wasn't the fact that we just didn't have a winning record, we really just kind of fell off the face of the earth when it counted most. There are definitely adjustments that need to be made."
One of the biggest adjustments will have to be made by the 31-year-old, who spent the offseason trying to capture his old aggressiveness with hitting coach Scott Coolbaugh.
"I'm not going to be spreading out and slapping the ball to left or anything like that," Davis said.
"I've been down that road when I was a little bit younger in Texas. I just didn't like the result that I had. It's going to be more mental. It's going to be more about my approach, kind of my attitude and really what I'm trying to accomplish at the plate. A lot of that is where I'm going to be dictated in the lineup, what the game is asking me to do, but I think it all starts with the mentality."
Davis, who is sitting out a few days with a sore right elbow, is confident his team can return to the postseason.
"We've never had the sexiest team on the field," Davis said. "We've never been the pick to win the division and I don't think we ever will be. And that's fine. I think we embrace that role. I think it's something that we've accepted and that we're going to run with."
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Updated March 1, 2018