ST. PETERSBURG, FLA. — Orioles first baseman Chris Davis called the traveling members of the team's beat corps together before Sunday's series finale to address his frustrating 2017 season, shouldering a significant burden for the club's struggles this year while promising an offseason focused on getting his swing back on track.
Davis, who is finishing the second season of a club-record seven-year, $161 million deal, entered Sunday's game with just 26 homers and a .737 OPS, both totals his lowest since 2014. In reflecting on the season, he said he felt that there were many nights when he felt he didn't contribute enough during the Orioles' first losing season since 2011.
"It's been extremely frustrating for a number of reasons, but one of the main reasons being that I just feel like there were so many nights out there when I was just a name in the lineup," Davis said. "I didn't feel like I had contributed. Maybe defensively, but definitely not with my bat. And I look at the numbers now and the year as a whole and I feel like I'm a better player than that and I feel like these guys deserve a better product than what I've been giving them. If you want to call it a chip on my shoulder or motivated or whatever, I definitely have some things I'm looking forward to working on."
Davis' 37.9 percent strikeout rate entering Sunday was the highest of his career, and 38.5 percent of his strikeouts this season (75 of 195) came by a called third strike, which was frustrating for Davis, who said he is eager to go into the offseason dedicating himself to correcting some mechanical problems in his swing, including limiting his head movement, something that's hurt him in the past.
"That bothers me," Davis said of the called strikeouts. "And anybody who's watched me play at all over the past few years knows I'm an aggressive hitter. I like to swing the bat. I think that's obvious. So that in itself was inexcusable and it's extremely frustrating. But I think there are definitely mechanical things that I can do to give myself a better chance and ultimately at the end of the day that's all you can do."
Davis acknowledged that there were times this season he might have been pressing at the plate to justify his contract, including just before he went on the disabled list with an oblique strain that forced him to missed 26 games before the All-Star break.
"I think there was a point in time where I was doing too much," Davis said. "Maybe that was one of the reasons that I got hurt earlier this year, trying to do too much, trying to overdo it, but I think I've been pretty clear over the years that I have a special place in my heart for our fans. They were a lot of the … reason that I was so excited to come back here. I still remember the last day of the season in '15, the way that I felt, the way the fans embraced me.
"I do feel a great responsibility to be the player that I know that I'm capable of being, I understand their frustration. I share in their frustration. There has to be something else taking place. You can't say: 'I understand you're frustrated,' and not make an adjustment. As far as that's concerned, I have several years left here and hopefully a lot of good baseball still in front of me. I look forward to the challenge."
Like center fielder Adam Jones, Davis said he hopes to have an offseason meeting with managing partner Peter G. Angelos to discuss the team's future.
"Absolutely, I'm always open to sitting down with Peter and talking about the future of the team, the expectations, the goals, the concerns," Davis said. "I am 100 percent in on that. I think the more you have those discussions, the more open about what you expect and what you want to see happen, the better it is for the team. I haven't had any contact with them in the last few days, obviously with the end of the season being on the road. There's a lot going on. I would welcome that."
Will Showalter's staff remain intact?
Orioles manager Buck Showalter said he hopes the team will retain his entire coaching staff next year. Executive vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette said that might not be the case.
"Well, all those things with the coaches and the staffing, all those things need to be addressed," Duquette said when asked about Showalter's staff. "And I think you have to look carefully at them when you don't have a strong year and see if there are some adjustments that you can make. And we'll do that over the offseason."
Most of the club's eight-man coaching staff were holdovers from last season — the exceptions being pitching coach Roger McDowell, bullpen coach Alan Mills and assistant hitting coach Howie Clark.
"I hope not," Showalter said when asked whether there will be any changes. "We'll see. I'll get input from a lot of people. I've got a lot. … You look at everything. We always look at stuff like that. I don't like this time of year that, these guys four weeks from now don't have contracts. They have families, kids, whatever. Whatever someone has in mind or we have in mind, I want it to come to fruition quickly. I wish it was already done."
In recent years, the organization has been slow to renew the staff's contracts.
Around the horn
Davis, who was not initially in Sunday's starting lineup, was added before game time because he wanted to play in the season's final game, Showalter said. … Trey Mancini's fifth-inning single was his 159th hit of the season, enabling him to pass Cal Ripken Jr. (1982) for second most by a rookie. Eddie Murray (1977) has the club record with 173.