SARASOTA, Fla. -- As the 2017 season ended, Orioles slugger Chris Davis assessed his season and knew things had to change.
The Orioles' first baseman had too many called strikes last season and wasn't nearly the threat he had been in 2015, when he led the major leagues in home runs and signed a seven-year, $161 million contract with the team.
Last season, Davis hit just .215, had 26 home runs and 61 RBIs. He struck out 195 times in 128 games -- the highest ratio of his career. So throughout the offseason, Davis worked with hitting coach Scott Coolbaugh on a different approach.
"I feel like I'm back to my old self," Davis said. "I think, obviously, once the games start there's still a lot of things that I want to implement, a lot of things I want to do, but I feel really good about this offseason. I really do."
Davis is entering the third year of his contract, and knows that a better performance is key to the team's success.
"The last couple of years for me personally were extremely disappointing, and I think if this team is going to be where we want to be, I definitely have to be a better player," Davis said. "I have to be a little bit more productive and kind of get back to some of the things that I've done in the past that made me successful."
It's been a busy offseason for Davis. His wife, Jill, gave birth to twin girls in January. But Davis, who will turn 32 March 17, still found time to work on his swing, and he feels like he knows what went wrong.
"I think it was completely mental," Davis said. "Mechanically, I feel like I've pretty much done the same thing year-to-year. The mentality was too passive, and I made it a point to say that at the end of the year last year. There were too many called third strikes. 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. I think early on in spring it's good to swing the bat, kind of know where I'm at to kind of get a little bit of feedback to know where I'm at. That's something I plan to do."
Because pitchers aren't working strategically during spring training, at least the ones Davis is likely to face, he might have difficulty implementing what he's worked on during the offseason.
"I think you have to treat spring training like it's the regular season," Davis said. "I'm talking about for me. 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 Scott and I have talked about and really try and take advantage of these at-bats and make the most of them."
As the Orioles gathered for their first team meeting Feb. 18, manager Buck Showalter said: "This is not going to be a celebration of the 2017 season, trust me."
Davis believes that last year was one to forget.
"There wasn't a whole lot to celebrate last year," Davis said. "Last year, since I've been here, was the first year that we didn't even have a [non-losing] record. And it wasn't the fact that we just didn't have a winning record, we really just kind of fell off the face of the earth when it counted most. There are definitely adjustments that need to be made. I feel like the group of guys we have are plenty capable of making those adjustments."
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