Chris Davis was named the Orioles’ nominee for the Roberto Clemente Award on Thursday, but he wasn’t in the lineup that day and hasn’t been for the two games since. He played in only three of Baltimore’s first 12 September games.
But the honor Davis received Thursday is recognition for off-field efforts that have provided perspective during a second straight trying season. Davis, the Orioles’ 33-year-old first baseman in the fourth season of a seven-year, $161 million contract, is hitting .172/.265/.305 with 10 home runs, which would be his lowest total in any season in which he played at least 60 games.
“Would I like to be on the field? Absolutely,” Davis said. “But I want to be in a position where I can be productive and be the player that I know I’m capable of being and that my teammates deserve to have on the field. So, I’ll continue to work and get back to the things that I know, the things that I have seen results from, and hopefully finish up the year whether it’s on the bench or on the field on a positive, strong note.”
Davis earned the Orioles’ nomination for the Roberto Clemente Award, baseball’s humanitarian honor, for a third straight year because of the efforts he and his wife, Jill, make with various Baltimore organizations and charities. The Orioles’ news release announcing Davis as their nominee included at least 10 organizations, with Davis specifically mentioning the LUNGevity Foundation, the University of Maryland Children’s Hospital, Casey Cares Foundation, Helping Up Mission and International Justice Mission when he discussed the nomination Saturday.
The team’s announcement also referenced Davis’ connection with Henry Frasca, a 9-year-old Boston Red Sox fan who penned Davis a letter of support during his record-setting hitless streak early in the season. Frasca’s note emphasized that Davis’ on-field performance didn’t define his worth as a person, a concept Davis brought up Saturday.
“As much as I would like to see more of a return on the baseball field, I understand the platform that I have, the spot that I’m in, it’s so much more than baseball,” Davis said. “Jill and I are going to continue to do whatever we can to serve the community of Baltimore and the people of Baltimore.
“It just makes you step back and have a little bit of perspective and really understand that we’re so much more than baseball players. Yeah, this is our job. We have to work hard at it. We have to spend a lot of time, a lot of energy to be at this level, but there’s so much that is involved and so much more that is really asked of us on and off the field. I couldn’t think of a better way to spend my time off the field than doing what we’ve been doing the past few years, and I’m going to continue to do that.”
Davis has met with both manager Brandon Hyde and executive vice president/general manager Mike Elias recently to discuss his playing time this season and a program to get him to closer to being the player that hit 197 home runs in his first five full seasons with the Orioles.
In the meantime, he’s been reduced to a bench player, providing an opportunity to serve in a mentoring role as the Orioles’ oldest and longest tenured player.
“It’s a different role, but it’s something that I’ve embraced,” Davis said. “[Hyde] has been good about being upfront with me and being honest, and that’s all that I’ve asked. Mike and I sat down several weeks ago and kind of went over a program that we both thought was going to be beneficial, not only for me but for the Orioles and my teammates as well.
“I’ve enjoyed being around the guys and getting a chance to kind of coach and teach, something I didn’t really expect to do at this point in my career. … Being able to sit on the bench and watch and see some of the changes that we’re making and some of the growth that’s going on, it’s encouraging.”
Around the horn
With Double-A Bowie’s season ending Friday, the Orioles recalled right-handed reliever Tayler Scott after he spent the Eastern League playoffs with the Baysox. They did not promote Opening Day center fielder Cedric Mullins from Bowie, a decision Hyde called “a numbers deal” with the Orioles’ glut of outfielders. … Hyde said he hasn’t planned out whether he would play infielder Jonathan Villar, one of six players to appear in all of his team’s games in 2019, in all 162 games. Villar, 28, would be the first Oriole to do so since Jonathan Schoop, for whom he was traded last season, in 2016.