Orioles manager Brandon Hyde was short in his declaration Saturday that Chris Davis wouldn’t return from the injured list due to his sore knee, ending his 2020 season with the club and leaving plenty more questions about his future.
Hitting coach Don Long was a bit more expansive on what will be required for Davis to get back to the kind of production that he has spent so long reaching back to replicate once he’s back healthy in 2021.
“You have to keep working, and you have to keep believing,” Long said. " That sounds kind of generic, but I think he’s dedicated to do that, to have the right mentality, the opportunity to work, to try and improve.
“I think the process of hitting is always being reshaped. It’s ongoing. I think the most dangerous thing a hitter can do is look back. I think you have to continue to [ask] what am I feeling now?," Long said. "What am I able to do now? And within what I’m able to do now physically and mentally, can I go back and have the same kind of game I had before, or do I have to kind of reshape what I’m doing? I think that’s the first part of the assessment for any hitter, to be able to be reflective enough to say, ‘Is going back the right answer, or is it in going forward, maybe becoming a different version of myself based on what’s available to me right now?’”
Davis thought he had the solution to what’s been a years-long decline this offseason, when he worked out with close friend and former teammate Craig Gentry to put on 25 pounds of muscle. It was suggested at the time that getting strong again made Davis more confident to swing at pitches he would take for strikes and allow his power to return.
He crushed spring training pitching and thought he could keep that up through the coronavirus shutdown, but was never the same in summer camp or once the season began. He hit .115/.164/.174 with three doubles and an RBI in 55 plate appearances and wasn’t playing much before his knee injury was revealed with a trip to the injured list last month.
Davis came back earlier this month, played once, then went back on the injured list. He has two years remaining on the seven-year, $161 million contract signed ahead of the 2016 season.
Velazquez to Bowie site, Phillips up
Utility man Andrew Velazquez, who was on the team all season thanks to his ability to cover in shortstop and center field, was optioned to the Bowie site Saturday so the Orioles could add Evan Phillips back to the bullpen.
Phillips struck out all four batters he faced in the second game of the Orioles' doubleheader sweep Thursday.
Velazquez will work at the secondary site and doesn’t need to be around as cover in center field with Austin Hays and Cedric Mullins both around. José Iglesias and Pat Valaika are the shortstop cover.
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