Orioles first baseman Chris Davis had his renaissance spring training cut short by the coronavirus pandemic that has called not only when, but if baseball season will begin into question.
Whenever that comes, Davis believes the pieces are in place to continue his resurgence, and that the offseason work he’s continuing now in this post-spring training baseball void will be enough to get his career back on track.
“I am confident that I can pick up where I left off,” Davis said. “I think if you’re optimistic, which I’m trying to be, I think that’s something I can look at as a positive. While I didn’t get to continue to go out there and get regular game at-bats, I know that once we start up again, I’ll have the opportunity to go back out there and get more comfortable, get more at-bats, get more of a feel for where I want to be.
“But it was nice to see some results and give me a little bit of peace of mind that what I was doing this offseason really worked, and just to continue doing that. And that’s what I’ve done. I feel like, honestly, I’m still swinging the bat just as well as I was when the games ended, and I look forward to the chance whenever we can start picking it up.”
Davis, who signed a seven-year, $161-million contract ahead of the 2016 season, has seen a precipitous decline at the plate over the past few years. This winter, he resolved to get physically stronger after years of trying to keep his body lean to keep it from breaking down, and came into camp with 25 pounds of new muscle.
Whether it was the confidence from that strength or the strength itself, Davis performed well against spring training pitching, homering three times and walking nine times while collecting seven hits in 15 at-bats.
That was enough for Davis to be able to return home once camps were closed knowing he didn’t have to do anything differently, he said.
“You kind of go back into your offseason routine, for me, and that’s something that although it was short and I would have liked to have continued playing and continued to get an opportunity to go out there and just have game at-bats, it was nice to see that the work that I put in this offseason was producing some results,” Davis said. “For me, that was a positive, just nice confirmation to know that I can come back home and continue what I was doing and not have to worry about making any adjustments.”
While home, Davis said he and his wife, Jill, have had to “be creative and use our imagination” to keep their three young daughters entertained, though he’s enjoying all the time with his family. He’s also keeping a bat in his hand and staying fit while keeping in touch with his teammates and coaches as much as possible.
As the Orioles’ representative to the Major League Baseball Players Association, Davis said he’s been heavily involved in not only the league’s discussions with the players on how to proceed but with keeping his teammates in the loop.
Perhaps that knowledge informed how uncertain he was about what he’d like the eventual season to look like, if there is one. Davis said he’s hoping the whole league doesn’t have to replicate the extraordinary game without fans at Oriole Park at Camden Yards during the 2015 unrest over the death of Freddie Gray in police custody, but that’s something he’s prepared himself for. He said he wants to play as many games as possible, whenever that is, acknowledging the possibility of scheduled doubleheaders as well.
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“It’s a little too early to tell because there’s so many things that have to happen before we can even consider or start to discuss what a schedule looks like,” Davis said. “I’ll just try to be patient, try to stay positive and stay in a good mindset, and prepare myself to play as many games as possible. I don’t think there’s a number I could put on it that would really make me feel [good]. … Any number of games, honestly, for me is worth it.”