Orioles manager Buck Showalter talks about the Twins' pitching after the Orioles lose, 7-0. (Kenneth K. Lam, Baltimore Sun video)
First baseman Chris Davis went hitless in the three-game, season-opening series against the Minnesota Twins in his debut as the Orioles’ leadoff hitter.
Manager Buck Showalter said after the team was blanked, 7-0, by Twins starter José Berríos and managed just five runs on 11 hits in the series that Davis' status there will be up for re-evaluation constantly. But Davis said he believes the top of the lineup is the best place for him to jump-start both his own season and the team's.
"Not a lot of production," Davis said of his opening weekend. "I feel like I'm seeing the ball well, being a little overaggressive, I think. When you're not really swinging the bats collectively as an offense, I think the tendency is to go out there and be a little too aggressive. But I mean, it's three games.
"I understand that we've got a long way to go, and I'll try to take the positives. I feel like I'm seeing the ball well — just kind of getting myself out right now. But I think that's somewhat to be expected with the limited time in spring training, missing a few weeks with the elbow, but that's part of it. You grind it out and keep going."
Without an obvious candidate, plus the idea that Davis is at his best with the bases empty and getting an inning started, the 32-year-old slugger was placed atop the lineup for Opening Day and the two games since as a "new toy," Showalter said at the time.
The Orioles were looking for something to get Davis to be a little less pull-conscious, which in turn unlocks more of his natural power, and this was seen as a way to do that. It wasn't about bunting against the shift or trying to change defenses. It was trying to fit Davis into the lineup flow.
" I think it's a good spot for me," Davis said. "I think it's a good spot for our entire lineup for me to be at the top. At some point, we'll all start clicking and get rolling. Really, honestly, it's just a spot in the lineup. I think when our offense gets going, it doesn't matter who's hitting what. We have power from top to bottom, we can get on base, we can drive in runs. We've just got to take a deep breath and stay after it."
Despite that, Showalter said he's "not married to it, but I certainly am looking for something to get him going a little bit early in the season."
"It hasn't been the case so far," Showalter said. "But like I said when we first started talking about it, we'll look at it, step back, and see the cause-and-effect or whatever you want to call it. We're always looking for ways to get better, but Chris is not the only one right now — three games into the season with 159 left — that's not exactly doing what we know they're going to do. ... Sometimes, it's for the individual which helps the team, and so far that hasn't been the case. Like I said, we'll continue to look at it as each game comes. It's something I'll probably talk with three or four of our guys, where we are right now, on the plane ride. It's what we do."
In a small sample size of three games and 14 plate appearances, Davis has reached base twice on walks — once intentionally and once unintentionally — and seen 34 pitches, 2.43 per at-bat. That's last among Orioles regulars and 83rd out of 94 qualifiers in the American League through Sunday afternoon.
None of that has changed Davis' idea of what he needs to do to get on track this season, even knowing Showalter might not leave him atop the lineup for long.
"I think it's just important for me to be in there every day," Showalter said. "I think whether it's in the one-hole, three-hole, four-hole, I know what my job is. It doesn't really change where I am in the order, and we talked about that. We talked about it before the season started, and kind of the fact that he wasn't married to the idea, that we were going to change it up a little bit. It's understood."