Orioles putting all their faith in Davis
I have a feature story up on Orioles.com today about first baseman Chris Davis pictured smiling above), which you can read here. As is typically the case with a longer story, there was plenty of stuff I left out. Here are some of the leftover quotes that didn’t make it into my piece…
[on if he ever wanted to call it quits with baseball given his struggles]
“I never wanted to give up, I never wanted to give anybody the satisfaction that they beat me, so to speak. I didn’t want to let up because I felt like I was better than what I was showing. There was a lot of anger, a lot of frustration, but a lot of it was just because I didn’t understand really what was going on. You talk to lot of guys in the Minors and the common thing is,’ Oh they are screwing me.’ But I didn’t feel that way.
Yeah, there were times when [the Rangers] could have taken a longer look at me than they did, but they also hung in there a lot longer than most teams would have. There was definitely a little bit of resentment, but I think it just made me work that much harder to get to be the player that I’m capable of being.”
[on being a Christian]
“A lot of fans when I was coming up in Texas thought I was this square, emotion-less beast, but I always tried to carry myself well. The truth is, I’m one of the most emotional people you know. I try to not let it show on my face because if I did I’d be out of control, breaking stuff one minute and jumping up and down the next. [As players] I think we are given a really special platform, not only for kids but other people too. That’s it’s still really cool to be [religious] and a good guy.
[on what he wants to convey to Orioles’ fan]
“I do want to thanks the fans. I know it was tough last year when I got traded over here. I know Koji had a lot of success over here and was really well liked and Tommy [Hunter] and I came over here and I didn’t play very much and was hurt, and they were kind of like, ‘what the heck did we get ourselves into?’ But, hopefully we’ll have a good year this year and I’ll do some damage and all those will be long forgotten thoughts.”
[on the Orioles’ upcoming season]
“I think we are going to surprise a few people this year. I know there’s been a lot of talk about us getting out of the cellar and not finishing in last place but if your goal is to not win the World Series every year then you are in the wrong spot. Everybody starts fresh every year and if your goal isn’t to win the division and on to the World Series, then you are in the wrong place. It might not seem realistic, but there were a lot of people who didn’t think the Rangers would be in the World Series in 2010.
[on if it’s time for the organization to get rid of the .500 mindset?]
“Absolutely. I think that’s how you should approach every day. It doesn’t matter how you are facing. We might play a team that’s better than us on paper, but they may play bad that night and we may play better than them and beat them. I think winning is definitely a mindset, If you think of yourself as a contender and as a team to beat, you are going to go out and give that team the business so to speak. But if you don’t feel like you are good enough and you are just trying to keep your head above water, I just don’t understand why you wouldn’t set the bar as high as you possibly can.”
[on the whispers that he’s a 4-A player]
“There’s a lot of things that goes on outside the game that’s really negative. I can’t control what everybody else is going to say, what people are going to think about me, the only way I control is the way I live my life and the way I carry myself as a person and a player. There were things that were said about me being a 4A player, and I don’t believe those are true. So in my mind that doesn’t even apply to me. I know guys who were 4A players and that doesn’t mean they weren’t great baseball players they just couldn’t make the transition to the big leagues. I don’t think I’m that type of player.”
[on a 2009 season he says he was in “way over his head”]
“It was really tough because not only had I not struggled at the big league level like that, I had never struggled like that at all. I started off slow a few seasons, but nothing like that. I’ve always been a guy who’s going to strike out, I mean I’m a power hitter with the home runs come the strikeouts. But I had never struggled like that and I didn’t know how to handle it, I didn’t have anything to fall back on. I tried to listen to too many people, there were a lot of people trying to help me do the right thing, but at the point it was confused to hear too many ideas, too many philosophies. I was 22 years old, I wasn’t real mature mentally when it came to failure. When it was successful I was fine, but every time I hit a rough spot it was really tough to deal with.
I wasn’t a bad teammate or anything like that, I just struggled with separating what went between the lines as opposed to what went on outside the lines, I was miserable to be around. I was real quiet, I wasn’t joking around having a lot of fun. I was searching, I was trying to find something that I didn’t know how to get there. I still made it a point to mask that from the outside, and kept my game face on.”
[on what happened when he was traded]
“[Manager Buck Showalter] let me know the situation, and talked to me about what he thought I was here for and what he thought I was capable of and the fact that I was going to be given the opportunity to do that. I know you aren’t guaranteed anything in this game, I know there’s alwys a guy somewhere trying to get your job, that’s just the nature of the beast. But, to be told that I was going to be given the opportunity to prove myself was huge. Because I just felt like I wasn’t given that on an every day basis in Texas.”
RANGERS HITTING COACH SCOTT COOLBAUGH
[on Davis, who he had throughout the Minor Leagues]
“He’s starting to come into his own. I think the main thing for Chris, he’s a kid who grew up in Texas, went to high school in Texas, drafted by his hometown team, came up through the system pretty fast, and had some success early. And I think sometimes there’s the pressure of playing in your hometown and I think it might have effected him at some point. Things didn’t turn his way, you get over that through maturity, and I think he’s at a stage right now where he’s matured through that process. Baltimore is kind of a fresh set of eyes, he can just go out there and play and get away from some of the distractions that can come from playing for your hometown team.”
[on Davis being traded, a tough call within the organization]
“I felt like it was just a matter of time before he was going to have some success at the big league level, that’s what everyone felt like, Chris is a guy who had proved himself, it was just a matter of making the transition to the big league level.”
[on his Minor League numbers]
“He was just a man against boys so to speak. Not to downplay any players in Triple-A or Double-A but he was so much above the level of competition that he just needed to find a home where he can have the opportunity to play every day.”
[can he translate that power to the bigs?]
There’s no doubt. I think he’s at the point right now and his maturity as a player it’s going to take him over the hump and make him a big success. “It’s just a matter of him going out there and relaxing and playing.
He just ran into a situation where there were other players coming up, a guy like Mitch Moreland, who was given an opportunity and he jumped in there and had a lot of success when Chris was having a tough time and essentially won the job. The Baltimore situation there’s really nobody that is behind him to that point where he’s got to be looking over his shoulder.”
[on Davis’ struggles in Texas]
“He went through some rough times, had a couple different hitting coaches at the time, I don’t know how that affects him but I know pitching coaches have different philosophies. When he would go back down to triple a, if you look at his triple a numbers, they are video game stats. I played with him in triple a and he was a video game player down there. And when I say that, it’s just he was above and beyond everybody else. And maybe, it’s more of a mind thing for him.”
“As an outsider looking in, maybe it’s just an adjustment period and hopefully he’s got that calm easy going attitude he’s always had and he can continue to carry that over into the big league atmosphere.”
[on Davis’ minor league numbers]
“That’s the thing that nobody in here knows. They’ve never seen him do some of the things I have. They got a glimpse of it in Kansas city when he hit that 500 foot moonshot to left field. Those are things that he did on a daily basis. Stuff that impresses other people doesn’t really impress me because I know what else he can do. He brings a lot to the team. He’s unbelievable defensively. He’s just huge. He’s a presence anywhere he goes.”
“This past year I was down in a rehab stint [at Triple-A], I think he was batting a little over .400 with 22 home runs in 65 or 68 at-bats. It was the most astronomical numbers I had ever seen. You look at it and you kind of think, maybe he’s playing in Albuquerque every other day, or ‘Well, he’s only in Round Rock.’ But I don’t care, you still have to put enough contact on the ball to get those kind of numbers.When he’s relaxed there’s not many people better. I wish the best for him because that can only help me as a pitcher and help this team to get to some of the ultimate goals. I got a pretty good amount of trust in that dude over there at first base.”
[on Davis not looking over his shoulder] “He doesn’t have a tight [buttocks], all puckered up. He’s always smiling, he’s always positive. There’s a lot more to him than people know. He’s a good dude.”
[on if Davis is in a good place in Baltimore] “I think so. It’s got to be tough playing a position where they drafted a guy high in the first round at your same position and you’re trying to rush to the big leagues. It’s got to be weighing on you.
Anyone will tell you that they’d rather be in the big leagues than Triple-A, so when a team like Baltimore comes and trade for you and they say we want you to be the guy, it’s such a big confidence boost to a player. It’s rare you get to hear things like that, and obviously he wants to try to take advantage of it with everything he does.”
[on how athletic Davis is]
“He comes into Spring Training he looks pretty big, but throughout the course of season he will lose a little bit of weight. You will see it, he’s got great range when he dives, he can make barehanded plays and throws the ball across the diamond real well. He helps out his infielders a ton with the picks, I’ve seen him do the splits over at first. It’s kind of scary, but he’s really athletic for a guy of his size.”
[cares more than people realize?]
“Oh, yeah he cares a lot. I’ve been with him, kind of on the same page with the ups and downs in our career and he wants to prove some people wrong. He’s wants to show people what he’s capable of doing and his best years are ahead of him.”
[on if he knew Davis while managing the Rangers]
“I was familiar with him. I knew him. [was in the minors when buck managed] I knew him real well. Just like I know [Manny] Machado and [Jonathan] Schoop, but they didn’t know that I know them. He’s been on the radar for a while. I knew that he was nearing that out of option thing. Andy did a great job of getting him in the deal.”
[on Davis as a person]
“He’s a good teammate. He’s going to make his teammates better. He wants to win. The still image of him trying to get to second base on that last double of the year when his groin was barking. This guy wants to win. We have so many people I think that have a chance to pop, and really go to another level. Chris is one of them.
There’s about four or five guys, whether it’s Nolan [Reimold] or Chris, or pitchers. I think the sky is the limit for Chris. I’m looking forward to giving him an opportunity. But I don’t want him looking over his shoulder, I want him looking forward. And there’s always competition, but I want the competition to be the other team.”