For the second straight day at Camden Yards, Orioles first baseman Chris Davis did early hitting work with hitting coach Don Long before the rest of the team took the field for batting practice in an effort to get him back on track this season.
His resulting pinch-hit effort in the ninth inning of the Orioles’ 10-3 loss to the Oakland Athletics on Wednesday night, however, was a fly ball to deep center field that ended up with another major league record on his account.
Davis, who set a major league record with 49 straight at-bats without a hit with an 0-for-5 performance Monday against the Oakland Athletics, was left out of the lineup by manager Brandon Hyde for a second straight day Wednesday. His pinch-hit flyout made it 57 straight plate appearances without a hit, tying a major league record set by Tony Bernazard of the Cleveland Indians in 1984. He has now gone 50 at-bats without a hit, a total that doesn’t include times Davis walked and was hit by pitch during that time.
“Well, I'm playing him tomorrow, so I felt like it was a good matchup, and I really liked his swings,” Hyde said after the game. “He was out in front of a couple changeups. I liked his takes, thought he wasn't rushing out, thought he was balanced and in the center, and then he put a really good swing on a ball that he just missed. Really happy with that at-bat. I was kind of hoping that a good at-bat could spark him for tomorrow a little bit and find the right situation for him, and I was really pleased with his at-bat. I hope he is, too.”
Hyde said it’s “really admirable” how Davis has been so willing to come off the bench in games when he hasn't started, a rarity for veteran players who haven’t had to have off-the-bench routines very often in their careers.
“They're not sure when you're going to use them, but he's ready from the fourth inning on,” Hyde said. “He's always giving me eye contact. He wants to hit. I love that. I love that about him — love that about any bench player.”
Before the game, Hyde praised the work that Davis got in over the two days out of the lineup. He was on the field before 3 p.m. each day doing extra work before hitting with the final group of Orioles hitters during traditional batting practice.
"He had another good workday on the field today, him and Don out there the last couple days doing some drills," Hyde said. "I watched the one today. I thought it was really, really good. Giving CD another day off, and probably back in there tomorrow."
On Wednesday, Davis was hitting off a tee with a net encroaching on the plate from the right-handed batter's box to work on "trying to stay short to the ball, staying inside the baseball," Hyde said.
Tuesday's work was similar, with the proceedings recorded on an iPad by the team's video staff, though Hyde said it'd be on Davis or Long to elaborate further on the work done.
Even if the circumstances are different, some of Davis' best stretches came after multiple days off last season. After taking over a week to work on his swing with executive vice president Brady Anderson last June, Davis homered upon his return to the lineup.
After sitting out the series finale in Toronto last Aug. 22, Davis had his hottest stretch of the season, batting .319 (15-for-47) in 15 games before cooling again.