Some four hours before Wednesday’s game against the Texas Rangers at Camden Yards, slumping Orioles first baseman Chris Davis was on the field doing early hitting work.
Davis, who was hitless in his previous 19 at-bats heading into Wednesday, took swings off a batting tee under the supervision of manager Buck Showalter and hitting coach Jim Presley.
Heading into Wednesday’s game, Davis’ average had dropped 62 points since May 23 to .205. From May 24 through Tuesday, he batted .145 with 50 strikeouts in 124 at-bats.
“We talked a little bit the past few days about how I’m feeling and everything,” Davis said about talking with Showalter. “I told him I feel like I’m seeing the ball well. … We just kind of talked about my bat path a little bit and little things here and there. He’s seen me play quite a bit the last few years, and when I was with Texas, and he just had some things he wanted to talk to me about, and they were helpful.
“That’s the beautiful thing about this team is that everybody’s always willing to help everybody. That’s one of the reasons we’ve been successful over the last few years.”
Coming off a season in which he led the major leagues with 53 home runs and 138 RBIs, Davis has been frustrated by aggressive shifts that have played him to pull this season, taking away hits to right field. Opposing teams also shifted Davis last season, but he said he believes teams are playing him more down the first-base line this year.
“The second baseman playing five feet off the right-field line,” Davis said. “Those are the things I had to get used to. They’re pitching me to hit into the shift. Last year, there were times when they were shifting me and pitching me to go the other way, so it worked to my advantage.
“As far as frustration, as long as we’re winning ballgames, guys have been picking me up all year, and that’s what it’s about. There were times last year when I was picking guys up and the tables have kind of turned this year. As long as we’re winning ballgames, and I’m getting the chance to be there every day, that’s all I can ask for.”
When Davis was hitting off the tee Wednesday, it was positioned over the outer half of the plate as he lined pitches the opposite way. Last year, he excelled at going with the outside pitch, but this year, he’s fouling pitches off similar to ones that ended up as opposite-field homers in 2013.
“A number of swings this year, I’ve really been pulling off the ball or hooking the ball, and that was something in the past I did really well, going the other way and staying through the ball,” Davis said. “It’s not necessarily about trying to hit everything to left field, because that’s actually what [Showalter] said. ‘We’re not trying to teach you to hit the ball the other way. You know how to hit the ball the other way.’ I’m just trying to stay through the ball a little more.
“There were a couple of pitches [Tuesday] night that I had that were up out over the plate, good pitches to drive the other way, that I pulled off of and fouled them off. …That’s when you know you’re not right. Those pitches, when you’re going good, are driven the other way.”
Showalter is confident that Davis will soon find his way out of his slump.
“Don’t think for a second that it’s not frustrating for him,” Showalter said. “But I look at it that, with good players like him, somebody’s going to pay. Somebody’s going to pay down the line.
“That bodes well for us that we’ve been able to get through this amount of games without [Matt] Wieters and without the potential of Chris going to another level and Manny [Machado], for that matter. Every team’s got issues.”
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