Baltimore Sun columnist Peter Schmuck talks about Orioles first baseman Chris Davis and the news he told reporters about a different medication he takes. (Kevin Richardson/Baltimore Sun video)
SARASOTA, FLA. — The last time Orioles first baseman Chris Davis was here in Sarasota, it seemed like he was as far away from the postseason spotlight as he could be.
Davis was playing in front of sparse crowds in instructional league games while serving a 25-game suspension for unsanctioned Adderall use as his teammates were in the American League playoffs.
Even though Davis must sit out one more game to complete his suspension, he said he was looking to put his troubled 2014 season behind him as the Orioles held their first full-squad practice of spring training at the Ed Smith Stadium complex Wednesday.
"I've been looking forward to this day for a number of months now, for obvious reasons," Davis said. "I'm just excited to get out there and get back to what I know and put all this stuff behind me."
As the Orioles finished the regular season and swept the Detroit Tigers in the AL Division Series, Davis spent nearly two weeks in Sarasota playing against minor league pitchers in the instructional league. He rejoined the team to watch the AL Championship Series against the Kansas City Royals.
"Last time I was here, I was on timeout, so to speak," Davis said of those instructional league games in Sarasota. "Even when I came back and saw the guys, I couldn't really participate, and that's a miserable feeling.
"I know a lot of that was self-inflicted and, to be honest with you, I deserved every bit of it. But being back here and being back in the mix and knowing these guys are going to count on me and being able to actually make an impact, it means a lot to me."
Davis will enter the season with a therapeutic-use exemption, but not for Adderall. He confirmed Wednesday that he was prescribed and approved to take Vyvanse, a newer medication for attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder.
"It's basically a more sophisticated version of Adderall and kind of the new thing the way it's introduced to the body," Davis said. "I'm not really going to get into specifics because I don't want to quote medical terms that I have no idea [about] and just show my ignorance. I like the way it works, and I think it's something that's helped me away from baseball, and hopefully it will continue to help me."
Despite last year's struggles, which besides the suspension included his batting average dipping to .196 and an early-season oblique injury that slowed him at the plate, Davis said he actually feels better coming into this year than he did this time last year after leading the major leagues with 53 home runs in 2013.
"I think I kind of keep a chip on my shoulder," Davis said. "My mindset is so much different this year. After you have a big year, you come in and you kind of question, 'Do I need to change anything? Do I do everything the same? How do I outdo myself?' and I think a lot of times you end up working against yourself, and that's kind of what happened last year.
"Obviously, with the injury early on, I pushed a little too hard to get back and didn't give myself enough time to heal. But with everything that's gone on and the time I've had off, it just lit a fire underneath me, and I definitely have a different mindset coming into this season. I almost feel more confident this year than I did last year, which is kind of ridiculous to say. It's just a weird thing."
After going on the 15-day disabled list with the oblique strain in late April, Davis said he pressed on trying to hit more homers, and his average suffered.
"I think the thing that really killed me was early on, obviously, the oblique, but I was carrying a decent batting average, and I actually had a good number of RBIs, but my home runs were down," Davis said. "It was cold. There were some balls you hit that didn't leave [the ballpark], and you kind of start second-guessing yourself. The worst thing I could have done was go out there and try to hit home runs, and I did that, and you saw the effects of that on my average.
"There was no doubt that was extremely disappointing. I know I'm way better than a .196 hitter, and hopefully [I'll] go back out there and prove it this year."
Davis addressed the team during his suspension last year, apologizing for his mistake. But he said he likely won't again this spring, simply because he wants to focus on the future instead of looking back to last season.
"Obviously, not being able to come to the field last year, I did certain things to voice how I felt and apologize, but I think the biggest thing for me is to move forward," Davis said. "I think the quicker we put this thing behind us and focus on what we need to accomplish this year, the better we're going to be.
"I think having the game taken away from me, you learn how fragile it is and how important it is and really what a blessing it is coming here and doing what we do every day. I think I had kind of taken that for granted last year and, obviously, got away from the things that made me successful. It was a pretty quick reminder of how fragile it is and how privileged we are to be here every day and I won't forget that."
Other items of note:
Infielder Everth Cabrera reported to the Orioles' facility Wednesday morning, holding his San Diego Padres bat bag over his shoulder. … Right-hander Steve Johnson threw long toss Tuesday to test his bruised right middle finger and hoped to throw a bullpen session today, but he wasn't on the list of pitchers throwing. The pitchers who were scheduled to throw were Ubaldo Jimenez, Bud Norris, Chris Tillman, Miguel Gonzalez, Zach Britton, T.J. McFarland, Dylan Bundy, Darren O'Day, Tommy Hunter, Ryan Webb, Wei-Yin Chen, Brad Brach, Kevin Gausman and Mark Hendrickson.