SARASOTA, Fla. (AP) Chris Davis is trying to forget last year. For many players, hitting 38 home runs and driving in 84 runs would be a season to celebrate, but not for Davis.
Early in the first year of a $161 million, seven-year contract, the Baltimore Orioles first baseman injured his left hand while diving into a base, the effects of which he felt throughout the season.
Davis still played 157 games – second most in his major league career – but hit just .221 and struck out 219 times.
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He says the offseason was what he needed.
”I think the biggest thing was really the rest and the time off and not having the physical contact and the beating that I did every day when I was swinging and taking balls at first base,” David said. ”Really, after the first three or four weeks the swelling went completely away and I haven’t had anything, any issues or swelling since I started hitting. So, I think the biggest thing is just rest and obviously didn’t have time to rest during the season last year.”
Manager Buck Showalter knew how much Davis was hurting but that there was little he could do about it. The slugger would have had to take many weeks off, and he was still helping the team, both offensively and defensively.
”It would be different if it was like, he could take two weeks off and it’s going to be fine, but when you get that deep . an injury like that, nothing but a real extended period (helps),” Showalter said. ”It certainly impacted him.”
In the first few days of batting practice, Davis has felt strong.
”It was kind of an eye-opener for me because I hadn’t realized the impact that it really had on me. I had almost forgotten what it felt like to be 100 percent and be able to swing with both hands,” Davis said. ”It was really a big relief to not have any pain and I’m looking forward to getting started again.”
Baltimore hit a major league-best 253 home runs last year, and its top five power hitters, who accounted for 177 long balls, have returned. Two of the Orioles’ new players, catcher Welington Castillo and outfielder Seth Smith, combined for 30 homers. One of the attractions of Smith is his ability to get on base. His .342 on-base percentage in 2016 would have been the third highest on the team.
”I think Seth is going to be good for us because he knows how to work the count, he knows how to get on base,” Davis said. ”That’s the thing, we know we can hit the ball out of the yard. But I’d rather see us do it with one or two runners on, or even three – instead of going up there hitting solo shots.
”I think a lot of times when you hit a two or three-run homer it’s really deflating to the other team as opposed to a solo shot. Really, there’s no one person in our lineup who has more power than the other guy. I think everyone 1-9 has the potential to hit the ball out of the ballpark.”
NOTES: LHP Zach Britton won’t pitch in Wednesday’s intrasquad game because of a possible oblique injury. . LHP Richard Bleier, who was acquired from the New York Yankees on Tuesday for a player to be named or cash, is scheduled to report on Wednesday. LHP Vidal Nuno, picked up from Los Angeles Dodgers on Sunday, and OF Michael Bourn, who agreed to a minor league contract on Monday, also are scheduled to report on Wednesday.