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Sports Spotlight: An Interview with Baltimore Orioles’ Slugger Chris Davis

Jul 10, 2015 12:00PM ● By Cate Reynolds
By Tom Worgo

The expectations for Baltimore Orioles slugging first baseman Chris Davis have been high the past several summers—maybe even unreasonable. Two seasons ago, Davis clubbed a Major League-leading 53 home runs and earned the nickname Crush Davis. Davis’ home run tear for much of that season had him threatening Roger Maris’ American League record of 61.

Davis’ unforgettable 2013 should pay dividends for years to come. He will be a free agent after this 2015 season and is represented by Scott Boras, who has a well-earned reputation for getting maximum dollars for his clients. Davis, who made $10 million for the 2014 season alone, figures to command a contract between $100 and $200 million if he continues to put up solid numbers.

The 29-year-old Davis spent four seasons with the Texas Rangers before being dealt along with Tommy Hunter to the Orioles in July of 2011 for current Boston Red Sox closer Koji Uehara.

It turned out to be the big break the 6-foot-3, 230-pound Davis needed to jumpstart his career. The following year, he led Baltimore with 33 home runs and 89 RBI.

Before the start of the season we sat down with Davis for a one-on-one about his future with the Orioles, his memorable 2013 season and the lofty expectations on his shoulders.

You free-agent status after this season has been a hot media topic. Would you like to finish your career with the Orioles. Did you pay attention to the 10-year, $292 million contract Detroit Tigers slugger Miguel Cabera signed last season?

A big part of me would like to finish my career here. I grew up watching the Rangers in Texas and always wanted to play for them. I played for them and struggled a lot. It wasn’t everything I thought it would be. Coming to Baltimore has given me a second chance. I have been extremely grateful to Buck Showalter. If I stay here, I would be really excited. But I am prepared for anything. I saw Miguel’s contract, but I don’t pay a lot of attention to it. That’s why we have agents. As a player, we have too much to work on and prepare for. To really think about that is exhausting. Once the season starts, I just go out and play.

How do you build on past year’s success? Are the expectations for you almost unfair?

You can’t come to field every day and expect to go 4-for-4 with four home runs. It’s not realistic. I am going to continue to work hard and do the things that have made me successful. I hope at the end of the season my numbers are there.

Did you grow weary of all the media hype and incessant questions about Maris?

Did I ever expect to hit 50 home runs? No. I never did it before. There was a point in the middle of the summer where it became exhausting. It took a little bit away from the fact that I was having a good year. It’s almost like you can’t enjoy the success, or they expect you do things maybe you don’t even expect to do. I thought I could always put up good power numbers, but nothing close to this.

Do you feel the Orioles added the pieces to build the club into a World Series contender? Can you compare this year’s club favorably to the 2012 or 2014 playoff teams?

I like the moves we have made. I think one of the biggest things for us is chemistry. We are really getting to know each other and trust each other. That’s really important here. We had so many things go our way in 2012, but we have better pitching this year. To be honest with you, I think we have a better team. We have more talent. But it doesn’t matter how much talent you have if you don’t come together on the field.

You signed with Texas after playing two years at a junior college, but were drafted by the Yankees in 2004 out of high school. Why not sign to play pro ball then?

I was the third from the last pick [Davis said laughing]. I had never really been away from home. I just didn’t think the timing was right. I had signed a letter of intent with the University of Texas. I was a big Longhorns fan. They were the No. 1 program in the country. I didn’t stay there long, but things have worked out.

Do you have any superstitions as a baseball player?

Not really. Nothing comes to mind. I have to write them down if I have any. There is a difference in my mind between a routine and a superstition. You do certain things every day to prepare to play. I don’t believe in luck.

What do you like to do fun?

I like to hunt back home in Texas, but I am looking elsewhere, too. [Teammates] Darren O’Day and Tommy Hunter are moving to Texas this offseason so hopefully we can hunt a lot. J.J. Hardy has a place in Montana. I like to hunt deer, hogs, ducks. Anything that’s in season.