SARASOTA, FLA. — Slugger Chris Davis was supposed to start at first base Wednesday, but a sore elbow limited him to three plate appearances as the designated hitter in the Orioles’ 10-9 exhibition loss to the St. Louis Cardinals at Ed Smith Stadium.
No problem. Davis walked his first time up and struck out in his second trip, then launched his first home run of the spring — a three-run shot to the opposite field to give the Orioles a seemingly insurmountable 8-1 lead.
Turned out it wasn’t insurmountable. The Cardinals stormed back to win the game, but what Davis did was a lot more important to an Orioles team that needs him to get back to where he was at the plate when he was winning two major league home run titles.
He downplayed the soreness after the game.
“I just had a little tightness in my forearm,” he said. “I noticed it a few days ago. I think it’s a combination of sleeping with my arm tucked up underneath me and not being really able to get it stretched out the next day … and just doing a lot of work early on, taking a lot of reps.
“I’ve never had arm issues. I’ve never had elbow issues. And it doesn’t seem like it’s going to be a big deal. It’s muscular, so we don’t have to worry about any ligaments and tendons or anything like that. Just something I’ll have to deal with and take it day by day. The swing feels good, though.”
His swing looks good, too, according to manager Buck Showalter.
“He’s a little more compact I think,” Showalter said. “Today, he had the two-handed swing working. He stays on the ball a little bit longer. … I think he was favoring his elbow just a little bit, so he was going to swing two-handed today to see how it felt anyway.”
Davis, at his best, drives the ball to left field often enough to keep pitchers from getting comfortable working the outside part of the plate, so he was happy to launch his first home run over the left-center-field fence.
“Yeah, that felt good,” Davis said. “I talked about this offseason and when I reported how I wanted to be more aggressive this year, meaning more aggressive in the strike zone — obviously not just going up there and hacking anything.
“I feel like the at-bats I’ve had so far have been — maybe not the result that I’ve been looking for, but I feel they’re definitely headed in the right direction. Seeing a lot of pitches. Attacking pitches in the strike zone or close to the strike zone. It was good to let the ball travel a little bit today and put a good swing on it.”