Davis shows he has a softer side
BOSTON -- Chris Davis occasionally falls victim to the power-hitter mentality. They want to crush everything.
"He does that," said Orioles hitting coach Jim Presley. "He still struck out 180 times."
But with Wednesday night's game against the Red Sox on the line in the 12th inning, with bases loaded and two outs in a tie game, Davis put aside his desire to smash and simply tried to poke.
Franklin Morales served him a 1-2 slider that began high and inside but dove toward plate. Davis took a second to recognize it, then gave a late, protective swing that somehow connected with the barrel of the bat. The result was a ground ball through the middle of the infield, scoring two runs as the Orioles won, 5-3.
It was another sign of his maturity.
"I think he's always had plate coverage," Presley said. "He's a big, strong kid, 6-foot-5, 240 pounds and swings a 35-inch bat. So his strike zone -- he can reach out there and take a ball that's on the white line away and hit the ball pretty well.
"He just has trouble sometimes -- he gets himself out, swings at bad pitches. But he's been real good at that this year. After the first couple months, he's tightened the zone up and gotten things locked up."
While Davis is still striking out about 30 percent of the time, consistent with his career numbers, his plate coverage and plate discipline have shown drastic improvement.
In 2011, Davis swung at 45.6 percent of pitches thrown outside the strike zone, according to fangraphs.com. In 2013, he's swung at just 36.6 percent of pitches outside the zone.
That's what's impressed Presley.
"I think he knows now they're trying to pitch around him in certain counts, looking in certain counts," Presley said. "They're not going to throw a fastball, 2-1, 3-1 down the middle to him. They're going to off-speed him. And they've been pitching him in quite a bit. He's taken his walks and done really well with that plate discipline."