This winter in Texas, Orioles hitting coach Scott Coolbaugh and one of his prized longtime pupils, Chris Davis, have trained together at the same facility with the hopes of getting the first baseman back to his best — a form that's been evident only in small fits since he signed a club-record $161 million contract two Januarys ago.

While Davis wasn't at last weekend's FanFest because his wife, Jill, recently gave birth to twin daughters, Coolbaugh outlined the work he and Davis have done this offseason in an effort to revitalize the slugger's swing.


Two years later: What it cost the Orioles to re-sign Chris Davis

Two years after he agreed to his club-record seven-year contract, the Orioles are looking as if they got less and less value for their franchise slugger, Chris Davis.

"He's been very receptive," Coolbaugh said. "I know he wants to come back with a strong performance this year. He's working hard. Nobody wants to go through what [he] has gone through when you have a struggle year. He's well aware of that, and I think his mindset is really well right now. He just had the twin girls; he's got that past him and he's looking forward to spring training."

Davis, who led the major leagues in home runs in 2013 and 2015, hit 38 while batting .221 with a .792 OPS in 2016. But in 2017 he missed a month with an oblique injury and ended the year with 26 homers to go with his .215 average and .732 OPS.

The two main explanations for that dip were his league-leading total of strikeouts looking and his ineffectiveness combating the fielding shifts that are designed to take hits from him. A league-leading 75 of his strikeouts last season were caught looking, and while Davis said earlier this month that he'd be more aggressive earlier in counts, Coolbaugh said they've also delved into the causes.

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The first baseman struck out looking 75 times last season, 12 more than any other major league hitter. He hopes to change that in 2018.

"Is that a mental thing?" Coolbaugh said. "Is that a physical thing? We've talked about that."

Coolbaugh said the two have also discussed how to hit against the shift. Teams have become increasingly willing to deploy fielders where they expect the ball to be hit, but Davis hasn't fully embraced the idea of hitting against it rather than through it.

"It's more about the mindset, instead of worrying about the shift, doing what I do best," Coolbaugh said. "Sometimes guys go out there and they try to overcome the shift, so to speak, or try and hit through the shift, and they end up doing things they're not capable of doing. I think Chris got away from what he does well. We all know when he hits the ball the other way, he drives the ball, he hits the ball a little bit more in the air, which creates the home runs that he's consistently having as well as the walks, being in that 80-90 range like he's capable of doing.

"We've talked about the shift, the ground balls to the right side, of trying to hit through the shift instead of trying to take advantage and use the other side of the field. That's when he's really good, when he's driving the ball the other way."

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