BOSTON -- Even though Orioles first baseman Chris Davis has just one home run three weeks into the season, he has still found a way to be productive in the middle of the lineup.
After leading the majors with 53 homers last year, Davis knows that teams are attacking him differently. With two walks and a single in his first three plate appearances Monday, he has now reached safely in 17 straight games, tying his career high.
Davis hasn’t seen very many pitches to hit. He's not seeing many fastballs, and the ones he does see seem to be consistently inside.
He has drawn 12 walks so far this season and has walked in six of his past eight games. He has also been hit by a pitch in three of his past seven games.
"I turned over a new leaf this year,” Davis deadpanned before Monday’s game. “I'm trying not to hit any more home runs this year and just walk. Try to swing as few times as possible, take it easy on my body, try to get as many years out of it as possible. Yeah, guys have been pitching me differently. Who should be thanking me are the guys around me because they're raking. In front of me, behind me, it doesn't matter, which is good because they've been picking me up.
“Just kind of been trying to take what they give me early on. It's kind of good and bad at the same time. Last year, I got off to the best start of my career, was locked in from Day 1 and just kind of rode it out for the whole season. This year, obviously, not quite as hot as I was last year, but getting a chance to see a lot of pitches, being patient, which is not something that I'm used to. ... I feel like, really, the last couple of games, my swing has started to come around a little bit, my timing's starting to get there. And hopefully I can start hitting some more homers again."
The weather warming up should help. The cold weather the Orioles have played in during the first three weeks of the season in Baltimore, Detroit, New York and Boston has led to some balls that have died just in front of the fence.
"There's no doubt about it,” Davis said. “You don't want to make any excuses, but at the same time, when your hands are freezing, the ball's not traveling, the pitcher definitely has an advantage. But you've got to go out there and find ways to score runs. I think that's one of the reasons we've played so many close games early is because we've been in some pretty cold weather, had some rain in Detroit, which was nice. You've got to grind it out. The first month of the season is always tough, especially with the kind of winter we had."
Davis has seen more offspeed pitches -- especially early in counts -- than ever, but that’s forced him to be more selective at the plate.
“I think a lot of it is patience which, as aggressive as I am in the box, it’s hard,” Davis said. “But I think it’s going to pay off towards the end of the season. Last year, after the All-Star break, guys really made an adjustment and started to be a lot more careful in how they pitched me, and that’s continued this year. Guys go up there and throw me four straight change-ups or four straight split-fingers. It’s kind of a coin flip. So, that’s good. See as many pitches as I can early, and hopefully once it starts to heat up, the balls start flying again.
“I think they are locating a little better in. I think, last year, a lot of times, it was just for show to try to get me off the pitch away and try to move my feet a little bit. This year, they are locating a little better. They have the advantage, man. When it’s cold, you are trying to get the head out. I’ve rolled over a few pitches that were inside that I couldn't quite stay through. It’s coming along. I said last year I wish I could bottle up the feeling I had, I’d be a really rich man if I could sell that. But, it’s part of it.”
Around the horn
Left-hander Eduardo Rodriguez, the Orioles’ top left-handed pitching prospect, was placed on the minor league disabled list at Double-A Bowie with a left knee sprain. The move is retroactive to Friday. Rodriguez is 1-2 with a 6.75 ERA, having allowed four earned runs in each of his first three starts for the Baysox. … Nelson Cruz was 1-for-3 with an RBI, a walk and a run scored Monday and is now 8-for-26 (a .308 batting average) against the Red Sox this season. Nine of his 13 RBIs have come against Boston. … ESPN’s Sunday Night Baseball broadcast of the Orioles-Red Sox game drew a 7.2 local rating in Baltimore, the network’s third-highest rating for a regular-season game on record in that market.