SARASOTA, FL — Chris Davis has taken some big swings during the first week of the Grapefruit League exhibition season, so when he took one at baseball’s sign-stealing scandal, he didn’t miss.
Responding to a question about the lack of disciplinary action against the players involved, he said Friday morning that he thinks that will be handled on the field.
“I think the discipline that the players are going to get this year is going to be very interesting, and I say that meaning that a lot of that is going to be handed out between the lines,'' Davis said. “Obviously, what went on was awful for the game, for the fans, just for everybody involved.”
Davis stopped short of explicitly echoing players who have hinted at on-field retaliation, but went further in his criticism of the environment that was fertile ground for the complex cheating scheme that the Houston Astros employed during their championship season in 2017.
“But it also opened a lot of eyes to things that were going on that shouldn’t have been,” he said, "and I think it’s a good reminder that we need to keep the baseball on the field. Keep the baseball players, the baseball personnel on the field – as close to the field as possible.
"All the extra stuff, it seems like it’s flooding our game right now. There’s a time and place for it, but in the dugout, in the clubhouse, is not the place. So, I’m interested to see what happens this week, next week, the next few weeks and kind of how it plays out.”
The baseball world is anxiously waiting for the next shoe to drop. Commissioner Rob Manfred said at the MLB Spring Media Day that the results of an investigation of technology-assisted sign-stealing by the Boston Red Sox would be coming at the end of this week.
One way or the other, the Orioles players likely will get an update on the situation when the Major League Players Association officials brief them on union business in the club’s annual spring labor meeting on Saturday morning.
Davis has been doing most of his talking with his bat, which has become one of the feelgood stories of the early exhibition season. His struggles at the plate over the past three years are well-documented, so he’s not assuming anything, but his ability to drive the ball to the opposite field could be the key to a 2020 turnaround.
“It’s a big part of my plan, and it’s not so much going the other way,’’ Davis said. “It’s letting the ball travel, not trying to go out and get everything, being ready to hit from the first time that I step in the box, from the first pitch, but also knowing that I have the ability to let the ball travel, to drive the ball, to look for my pitch. It’s been rewarding. It’s been nice to see some positive feedback, for sure.”
Through the first week of Grapefruit League games, Davis has reached base in all but one of his plate appearances, with two homers, two singles and three walks in eight trips. More importantly, he has zero strikeouts. The only out he has made so far was a long fly ball to left center field.
The two opposite-field home runs have gotten most of the attention, but all Davis wanted to talk about was the seeing-eye single he dribbled through the infield on Thursday, since good luck has long been in short supply.
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“I almost passed out,” he joked. “I almost passed out halfway between home plate and first base, and then, I’m [like]: ‘You mean I can’t save that for the season. You’ve got to be kidding me. It went through like 27 guys.”