The Baltimore Sun's Eduardo A. Encina talks about the second day of Orioles minicamp in Sarasota, Fla. (Kevin Richardson/Baltimore Sun video)
SARASOTA, FLA. — Orioles hitting coach Scott Coolbaugh knows one player very well as he comes to a new organization.
When Orioles first baseman Chris Davis was a top prospect with the Texas Rangers, he worked with Coolbaugh in Double-A, Triple-A and the major leagues from 2007 to 2010. And since being hired by the Orioles, Coolbaugh said he has worked out with Davis multiple times. Both live in the Dallas area in the offseason.
"We've worked out a couple of times already," Coolbaugh said Tuesday at the team's minicamp at the Ed Smith Stadium complex. "It's like anything else. I think it's getting back to the mental focus of where you want to be, where you come from, get back to that Chris Davis that we know. I think he's going to have a great year, and I'm looking forward to spending time with him this year."
And as the Orioles look to recover from the free-agent losses of Nick Markakis and Nelson Cruz, they will depend on getting a rebound season from Davis, who batted just .196 in 2014 and ended the season while serving a 25-game suspension for unapproved Adderall use.
"Sometimes it's more of the mental thing, that you try to do too much, try to live up to what he did in 2013," Coolbaugh said of Davis. "You try to chase what you're doing and those things happen because of a process, not based on chasing results. I think he just got away from that probably a little bit and lost himself.
"Every player goes through it, so it's a great learning experience for it. He did it as a young player, got an opportunity to come over here and play every day and go through those things, and now it's a matter of learning and going, 'You know, I can't afford to do that again.' So, I look for great things from Chris this year."
Coolbaugh is in Sarasota for this week's minicamp, getting his bearing with a new organization.
"First, just get acclimated to the complex and some of the people that are here," Coolbaugh said. "Get around some of the kids that are here for the minicamp, introduce myself and start building that rapport, relationships with the people that work here and understand the surroundings. It hasn't been since 1994 that I've been here, in Florida.
"I spent a lot of time in Arizona, not only as a player, but as a coach. It's interesting to come back and see the dynamics of the complex and how it's changed since I've been here in '93 when I came and played for the Orioles in the minor leagues in Twin Lakes [Park]."
Coolbaugh said he wasn't surprised by Davis' breakout 53-homer season in 2013. He saw Davis destroy pitching in Triple-A.
"You know what?" Coolbaugh said. "Anything he does on a baseball field is not really overwhelming to me because I've seen a lot of things that he did. It was like a video game when he was in Triple-A when I was with him for a couple years when he got sent up and down.
"There were times when he hit [a bunch of] home runs in a month and hit .360, and it was like, this guy's like Babe Ruth compared to Triple-A. I know it's the minor leagues, but I've seen it on the baseball field, so when he hit 50-plus home runs, it wasn't like, 'Wow.' And I don't expect it every time, either, but at the same time, it's something he's capable of doing."
While he understands that his connection with Davis will be a storyline, Coolbaugh insisted that he's not with the Orioles to be Davis' personal hitting coach. He said his immediate goal is to develop a rapport and trust with all of the Orioles' hitters.
"No one player is going to get me to take a job, and again I want to emphasize that I'm not Chris' personal hitting coach," he said. "I don't mean to be rude about saying that, but at the same time, there are a number of players in the organization and at the big league level that I want to be hands-on with and be able to help them grow as players.
"For me, it was about the challenge of getting back to the big leagues and being a hitting coach at that level, and trying to be successful and take the Orioles to a world championship."