Former Lobo Davis still works hard on, off field
By David Driver Sports correspondent
March 11, 2012 at 10 p.m.
SARASOTA, Fla. - After several years in Arizona with the Texas Rangers, Chris Davis is in the midst of his first spring training in Florida with the Baltimore Orioles.
"I grew up in East Texas. I am used to the humidity. It is nice to be down here and sweat," said Davis, who was used to spring training in the dry heat of the Southwest. But the Longview High School graduate also is making adjustments off the field as well.
He was married last November to Jill, a former University of Oklahoma cheerleader who is a nurse. While Davis is working on the fundamentals here at Ed Smith Stadium his wife enjoys nearby Siesta Beach, ranked among the best in the country thanks to the Gulf Coast waters here on the west coast of Florida. They will live within walking distance of Orioles Park at Camden Yards when the season begins.
Davis came to the Orioles last July along with pitcher Tommy Hunter in a trade for Koji Uehara, a reliever who was part of the World Series run by the Rangers.
"I think the big thing for me is continuting with the routine that I had," Davis said. "There is a certain comfort level I feel here that I did not have last spring when I was battling for a position or being a bench guy, which I was not happy with it. I hope to see as many pitches as I can and have good quality at bats. The first few games you are a little rusty. I want to be a threat every time I come up."
After hitting a solo home run on Saturday to account for the only run in a 1-0 win over Philadelphia, Davis is hitting .308 (4-for-13) this spring with two RBIs and two strikeouts.
So what was it like to watch Texas in the World Series while the Orioles finished a 14th straight losing season?
"It was bittersweet. I was happy for those guys," said Davis, sitting by his locker prior to Wednesday's spring training game here against the Minnesota Twins. "It was hard to watch. I have aspirations and dreams of being in the World Series. They went somewhere I have always wanted to be."
"God has blessed me with a new beginning to almost start over," added Davis, a devout Christian. "When you have had some success, and some failures, you start to absorb some of the labels. It is nice to get back to the game I love."
Getting to the World Series may be difficult to achieve any time soon with the Orioles, who must compete with American League heavweights New York, Boston and Tampa Bay. But Davis, slated to start at first base for manager Buck Showalter, welcomes the chance at a new beginning in Baltimore.
"It is nice to come over here. I know I will be given the opportunity to play every day," Davis said. "Baseball is a funny thing: we are in a familiar situation as Texas was a few years ago."
The Orioles have a number of young promsing players, such as All-Star catcher Matt Wieters and pitchers such as Zach Britton of Weatherford, Texas and Jake Arrieta, who pitched at TCU.
Davis, who can also play third base, hit .276 with two homers and 13 RBIs in 129 at bats over 31 games with the Orioles. He begins this season with a lifetime average of .252 with 44 homers and 137 RBIs in 1005 at bats at the big league level. He was drafted in the fifth round by the Rangers in 2006 out of Navarro College and made his big league debut in 2008. He had the best year of his career in 2009, when he hit 21 homers with Texas.
"He looks like a big leaguer," Dan Duquette, the executive vice president of baseball operations for the Orioles, said. "He has a good body and the opportunity to develop into an everyday player."
Davis, who turns 26 on Saturday, is listed at 6-foot-3, 232 pounds and is a left-handed hitter who also batted .368 in 48 games last year with Triple A Round Rock in the Texas system before he was traded to Baltimore.
"He has power," said Orioles' catcher Taylor Teagarden, who grew up in Dallas and played 14 games for the Rangers in 2011.