First-year executive vice president/general manager Mike Elias still considers Chris Davis a part of the team’s future, even though the first baseman has endured historic struggles and Wednesday needed to be restrained after charging toward manager Brandon Hyde in the dugout.
Speaking in the Orioles’ dugout before Friday’s series opener against the Houston Astros, Elias said Wednesday’s incident won’t factor into any roster-related decisions regarding Davis, expressing that what the public saw does not reflect the positive relationship Davis and Hyde have.
“This is not something where they’ve got a poor relationship or where this had any kind of ill effects on the team,” Elias said. “I do think what it reflected was the frustration that a guy like Chris goes through when his statistics are what they and when the team is losing as many games as it’s losing.”
Elias’ hopes Davis will improve, not depart. Davis, 33, is the oldest and highest-paid member of the Orioles’ roster. He is in the fourth season of a seven-year, $161 million contract, a deal under which he’s hit .200/.294/.386 with 89 home runs after he hit .256/.342/.533 with 159 homers in his first four full seasons as an Oriole, twice leading the majors in home runs.
Earlier this season, Davis set major league records for consecutive at-bats and plate appearances without a hit.
“I hope he starts playing better,” Elias said. “We’ll continue to revisit our plan there, but he’s on the team. We don’t have any plans or expectations to alter that fact. He’s under contract, and that’s not something I take lightly. He’s got a lot of talent. We’re not going to walk away from the fact that he’s talented and he’s here for a while.
“We’ll continue to talk to him. We’ll continue to work with him during the season as best we can, and we’ll see what the plans are over the offseason. I’ve been keeping in touch with him this year about his program. But this will continue.”
Davis returned to the dugout in the middle of the fifth inning Wednesday frustrated after what he considered a defensive misplay on his part at first base preceded a home run in an eventual 14-2 loss to the New York Yankees. Television cameras shortly afterward caught Davis and Hyde arguing, with Davis moving toward his manager and needing to be restrained by teammate Mark Trumbo and hitting coach Don Long. Hyde subsequently removed Davis from the game.
“Look, these things are more common than probably people realize, and in our situation, it’s just very unfortunate that it happened right out in the dugout in the middle of a game in front of cameras, and that’s not where you want these things to take place,” Elias said. “I think, for me, the unfortunate aspect of it is it drew some undue negative attention to actually what has been one of the bright points this year, the environment here in the clubhouse and on the field and just the overall energy level that these guys are bringing. It was something very uncharacteristic of this team.”
Hyde expressed remorse both Wednesday and Friday about speaking with Davis in the dugout rather than in a more covered area such as the tunnel leading to the team clubhouse. Partly responsible for creating that clubhouse culture, he echoed Elias on the subject.
“For me, accountability and taking responsibility for your actions is a huge priority,” Hyde said. “That’s something that I always have a high standard for, how people interact and treat others and play the game the right way and treat teammates the right way. Our atmosphere in our clubhouse, I think, is awesome. So that’s why it’s disappointing to me that this happened because we’ve done a lot of really nice things here from a team atmosphere standpoint, a culture standpoint, and I think anybody in that clubhouse will tell you how great of an environment we’ve created even though it’s really hard to do when your team is a last-place club right now.
“It’s why that incident hurt, that people saw that because it’s really opposite of what this has been about this whole time. It’s just an unfortunate ordeal.”
With that environment in mind, Elias said he has been pleased with Hyde’s job so far this season, even as the manager has issued some criticism of the team’s talent level in recent weeks. Elias said he discussed Wednesday’s incident with ownership and feels that everyone has moved forward. That includes Davis, who the team did not discipline.
“We talk very openly about the team’s situation and his situation in particular,” Elias said. “We’ve had some long discussions, and we continue to do that. He’s got a lot of history on this team, and he’s got a lot of history in this city, and he’s a very good person. He’s a 10-year big leaguer, and there’s a lot that comes with that that puts him in a special position to talk with the front office and about organizational matters.
“I have a really good relationship with him.”