SARASOTA, FLA.-- — Orioles first baseman Chris Davis hit 38 home runs last season, but he's still looking at 2017 as a comeback year.
Davis, who struggled with persistent soreness in his left hand for much of 2016, said at FanFest that he was swinging without discomfort and added that he has continued to do so as he has ramped up to the start of spring training.
"I think the biggest thing was really the rest and the time off and not having the physical contact and the beating that I did every day when I was swinging and taking balls at first base,'' Davis said, as he prepared to take the field for the Orioles' first full-squad workout on Friday. "Really, after the first three or four weeks the swelling went completely away and I haven't had anything, any issues or swelling since I started hitting. So, I think the biggest thing is just rest and obviously I didn't have time to rest during the season last year."
He acknowledged that last season didn't end the way anyone on the club wanted it to, but doesn't think there is going to be any hangover from the disappointment of the extra-inning playoff loss to the Toronto Blue Jays.
"I think guys have done that and I think they're professional as far as dealing with the results and reflecting and then moving on,'' Davis said. "Obviously, we weren't happy with the way that it ended. We fought and clawed to get in that spot and the way it ended, just the timing of everything, it was really tough. It's going to be interesting to see the attitude of the new guys and the overall attitude of the camp over the next few days."
Davis batted .221 and still had the third-highest RBI total (84) on the team, but feels the work he has done to strengthen his hands will give him a chance to produce a season more like 2015 (47 HR, 117 RBI) than 2016.
"I've done stuff here and there just to improve my hand strength," he said, "that's something I always take a lot of pride in and that's something that's really helped me to be a productive hitter in the past is having good form and hand strength. The way I injured it was kind of a freak thing. It was a last-minute dive into the bag basically and I don't think there's any way you can prevent that. It's just gotta go in feet-first and do whatever you can to protect your fingers."