SARASOTA, Fla. -- Orioles first baseman Chris Davis admitted Monday his problems at the plate last season were "completely mental," and the slugger heads into this spring committed to changing that."The mentality was too passive, and I made it a point to say that at the end of the year
SARASOTA, Fla. -- Orioles first baseman Chris Davis admitted Monday his problems at the plate last season were "completely mental," and the slugger heads into this spring committed to changing that.
"The mentality was too passive, and I made it a point to say that at the end of the year last year," said Davis, who called a media scrum in the season finale on the road against the Rays to shoulder his fair share of blame for the O's struggles.
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"There were too many called third strikes," Davis said. "There were too many called first strikes. There were too many times when I was starting the at-bat 0-2 and hadn't even swung the bat, hadn't taken the bat off my shoulder. That's just not who I am as a hitter. It never has been."
So, where does he go from here? For starters, Davis is planning on taking Spring Training much more seriously than the veteran did in years past.
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"I think you have to treat Spring Training like it's the regular season. I'm talking about for me," he said. "For me to go out there and take pitches and try to work the count, I mean I don't think it's going to do me any good. These at-bats are precious because you can kind of do some things and work on some things and not really have to worry about the results. That's something [hitting coach Scott Coolbaugh] and I have talked about. [To] really try and take advantage of these at-bats and make the most of them."
What you will not see is any tangible change in Davis' swing. He won't be slapping the ball to left field or anything like that, as the slugger did that early in his days at Texas and didn't like the results.
"It's going to be more about my approach, kind of my attitude and really what I'm trying to accomplish at the plate," Davis said. "A lot of that is where I'm going to be dictated in the lineup, what the game is asking me to do, but I think it all starts with the mentality."
And his commitment. Orioles manager Buck Showalter, who has talked to Davis extensively this spring, said sticking with the new mentality will be key.
"The challenge is going to be, when you don't get a return for it for a couple of days, [not thinking], 'Let's try something else,'" Showalter said. "You've got to stay with it. I tell guys all the time, I challenge them to immediately write down what they're feeling when things are going real well.
"Don't say, 'Where are my hands, what kind of bat am I using, how's my stance?' That's fine, that's pretty easy, but it's the other stuff. What are you feeling as you're getting in the car and riding to the park, as you're on the on-deck circle? What are you feeling when things are going real well? Those are things that you reach back for and try to recreate that atmosphere and the culture, so to speak. But he knows. But that doesn't mean he's going up there and swinging at anything that moves."
Brittany Ghiroli has covered the Orioles for MLB.com since 2010. Follow her on Facebook and Twitter @britt_ghiroli, and listen to her podcast.