Davis homers in return to lineup after hiatus

June 22nd, 2018

ATLANTA -- Alex Cobb clearly remembers the look on Chris Davis' face when he returned to the dugout after hitting a solo home run in the Orioles' 10-7, 15-inning win over the Braves on Friday night at SunTrust Park.

Cobb remembers it not because of the moment -- the starting pitcher sees guys hit homers all the time -- but because of the significance for Davis, who returned to the lineup on Friday night after taking an eight-game hiatus.

"People don't realize the struggles and what kind of toll they take on you as a player," Cobb said. "You want to perform so bad every night that seeing him come up with that hit to really start the offense for us was just fun to see him enjoying that moment."

Davis would be the first to say he lost a little piece of himself this season trying to, ultimately, find himself.

It's a hard reality many slumping sluggers like Davis, who felt that throughout the first half of the 2018 season, face. He maybe sought out too many remedies, rather than reverting back to what he knows he does best, which is being a consistent run producer as he showed on Friday night.

Davis notched two RBIs, one on the solo homer to left-center field in the fifth inning off left-hander to give the Orioles the early lead and the other on his sacrifice fly during a six-run ninth. Davis also walked twice.

"I have a tendency to try and explore -- I guess [explore] is a good word to use -- especially when I am scuffling," Davis said before Friday's game. "[I was] trying to get that feeling back, trying to do too much."

Davis, who returned to the lineup batting seventh and starting at first base, said that O's manager Buck Showalter told him he saw the effort in Davis to get back to his old self and the drive to make the necessary adjustments to do so. That, he said, was the reasoning behind Davis' eight-game break.

Entering Friday, Davis had a .150 batting average. However, it was earlier this month when Davis and the coaching staff felt he needed time to figure out a new approach. Through the first seven games of June, Davis went 3-for-27 (.111) and struck out 14 times during that span.

The Orioles' first baseman led the Major League in home runs twice in a three-year span from 2013-15. In '17, Davis posted a .309 on-base percentage with 26 home runs. The guy who stepped into the box in '18 had "forgotten" how to find his way back to that power feeling.

"I don't mean mechanically," Davis said. "I mean just kind of the feel of certain things that I have been doing over the last couple of years that were kind of counterproductive. I had kind of forgotten how to recorrect or recreate that feel."

Showalter said the break was also about getting Davis back to a consistent state at the plate. The adjustments will need to stick now that he has made his return to the lineup.

"It's not a one-day, two-day, three-day [adjustment]," Showalter said. "It's some things that he really wants to stay with and [he] understands what made him successful and [what] can again."

Davis said he was appreciative of the time off, if anything, because it gave him a chance to focus solely on the areas that needed adjusting. The break was more of an opportunity for him to work on his swing and approach at the plate outside of a game environment.

And while Davis wouldn't go into complete detail as to what those specific adjustments were, he inferred that there were mental changes that had to be made along with the physical.

"I really was beating the same drum to the same [rhythm]," Davis said. "I wasn't making any progress, and there needed to be an adjustment made."

But after his eight-game hiatus, Davis is comfortable again with where he is and showed it on Friday night against the Braves.

"There were a lot of things going on around me," Davis said. "There [was] a lot of crowd noise, so to speak, but I just needed the time to get back to who I was. And I feel like I am, you know? I feel like I am."