Chris Davis said he feels he’s back, and that’s what matters to him.
He said he felt it as his eighth-inning home run pelted Eutaw Street to put the Orioles up by three runs over the Seattle Mariners, as he high-fived his teammates crossing home plate and in the batter’s box in a way he hasn’t all year.
“Oh, man, it felt so good,” he said. “The first couple of games of the series, I was too ramped up, too aggressive, and last night, I felt more in control of my emotions.”
It’s baseball’s worst-kept secret that the Orioles first baseman has been having a slump for the ages, with only six homers, 23 RBIs and a .152/.230/.252 slash line in 63 games entering Thursday.
But in his return Friday from an eight-game stint on the bench, Davis had two RBIs against the Atlanta Braves. The next game, it was three.
“I was trying to do too much, pull too much weight,” he said. “As a guy who’s been around a while and will be for the foreseeable future, I shoulder a lot of that and try to do what I can to help out.”
Still, as good as his performance in Atlanta felt, Davis said he knew the missing part that he hasn’t been able to find all season had come back to him as far back as June 20, when light rain sprinkled over his shoulders while he took batting practice with some minor league pitchers back at Camden Yards.
“It was 10:30, 11 [a.m.], and I just felt like, ahh,” Davis said. “I just had that ease. I felt like, ‘OK, now I’m back.’ ”
Davis’ three-run homer Wednesday didn’t deliver the Orioles a much-needed victory, a point manager Buck Showalter laments.
“I know me, personally, I kind of went, ‘Gosh, you’d think the baseball gods would let him have a moment there or something.’ But they didn’t,” he said. “It’s cruel sometimes, but I’m hoping. His productivity since he came off has been a lot better than it was before. So hopefully he’ll continue that.”
He intends to. Davis has been undergoing a personal transformation, which resulted in his two hits Wednesday night. He could point to his swing, or his stance, but to Davis, it was just as important that he sweeps away any mental blocks.
“I understand people’s frustrations. I’m not naive to it,” Davis said. “I understand the team made a long-term commitment and they want to see some return for it, but at the same time, we are human. We’re going to struggle. We’re not robots, even though it looks like it sometimes.”
More importantly, finding shade away from the spotlight, laying bare everything that was going wrong, was key to Davis’ finding himself.
“Earlier this year, I was really battling myself to find a certain feel. It was good to have a little bit of time off and make a few adjustments, not have to go out and play a game,” he said. “It’s really the reason I’ve been able to be consistent these past few days.”
Davis credited his tendency to wake up with a positive outlook with keeping him from collapsing further from self-doubt. His pair of home runs Wednesday and Thursday against the Mariners was affirmation that something’s working again. But he knows that to be able to be the player who signed a seven-year, $161 million contract in 2016, the one who watched home runs sail regularly over the heads of grumbling pitchers, he’ll have to keep working.
“I think the biggest misconception is that I didn’t care, just because I don’t show a lot of emotion a lot of the time. But that couldn’t be further from the truth,” Davis said. “I felt good since I’ve come back. That doesn’t mean that every night I’m going to be the guy that goes 3-for-4, 4-for-4. I’m going to have nights where I strike out four times. But I think just the feeling of where I’m at gives me so much more confidence.”