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Orioles, Chris Davis move on from his hitless streak in a much better place than when it started

Jon Meoli
Contact ReporterThe Baltimore Sun

When an always-reflective Chris Davis reported to spring training two months ago in Sarasota, Fla., he said one of the hardest parts of his disastrous 2018 season was he realized some teammates didn't think he was pulling his weight.

Set against that, the hitless streak that consumed the first two weeks of the Orioles’ season and ended with his three-hit contribution to the Orioles' 9-5 win over the Boston Red Sox on Saturday, at the very least shows some of those fences are mended.

"We've been pulling for him," pitcher Andrew Cashner said Saturday. "He's been here at 1 o'clock every day, working, hitting for — as far as I know — the last six days. But it's just when you see a guy grinding every day, you see him putting in all the work, you really pull for that guy. For him to come out of it today is huge for us and huge for him."

To be fair, there are different fences he's had to repair. There's hardly anyone left from the team that awkwardly endured the firestorm when Hall of Famer and MASN analyst Jim Palmer called out Davis' offseason preparation and lack of adjustments amid a season when Davis batted .168 in one of the worst statistical years in baseball history.

This is a young team, one Davis is part of by virtue of what's left on his seven-year, $161 million contract, and not because he's part of the new management group's plan. It's a young team full of rookies and second-chancers, and Davis spent two weeks, in his words, as "the elephant in the room for a while."

He didn't have a hit in his first 33 at-bats this year, to say nothing of the record-setting streak of 54 at-bats and 62 plate appearances dating to last season. He said he couldn't let it show.

"I think the way I carried myself, really for me, was really all I had a lot of times," Davis said. "Making sure that I didn't hang my head, I didn't give up, I didn't give in, and I know the guys appreciate that. A lot of that have been vocal about it, and you're not always going to be successful, especially in this game. A lot of times, it's how you handle adversity. I'm proud of the way I battled, and I appreciate all the guys that have rallied around me."

Maybe the Orioles just weren't public about their support for Davis. Most just looked the other way as he was consumed by last year's struggles. They're regarding things differently now.

"For him to go through that — I don't think he'd wish that on anybody," infielder Rio Ruiz said. "But he stays positive. He's a positive person, and it was great to see that come to fruition. … Everybody knows he can hit. For gosh sake, he's Chris Davis, man. He has a good track record, he's a veteran hitter and he knows what he's doing. He fell into a hard time, but he's worked his tail off the whole entire year, going back to spring training, really making an effort to put 2018 in the past. Every day, he comes with a new mindset and a clean slate and he goes to work."

Part of Davis' positivity through it all came from simply how hard his struggles were to ignore. Absent him addressing it on a daily basis, it fell to first-year manager Brandon Hyde to speak about Davis' struggles.

"I think the biggest thing for me is just not having the headache of having to answer questions, and have my teammates have to answer questions, and Hyde — I mean, good grief, he's had to answer questions pretty much every day about me,” Davis said. “We can kind of turn the page now and really focus on the team. I hate when one guys is singled out, especially when it's something negative. We've done so many positive things this season already, that my 0-for was kind of overshadowing that. I'm glad it's behind us."

Hyde said it's more about Davis than anyone else, and that's why he was glad for what transpired Saturday — even if he might enjoy the questions being about the rest of the team now instead of just about Davis.

"You're just pulling for the guy," Hyde said. "I talk about it every day, and that's part of my job, and I'm OK with that, and things happen. It's nothing about me. It's about Chris and his well-being and his mindset, and everything that he's going through. When you're with somebody for 12 hours a day, and you see the work they're putting in and it wasn't paying off until today, it's a great feeling to watch him do what he did today."

jmeoli@baltsun.com

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