baseball

Davis takes low-key approach for Derby

He homered in the last four games before the All-Star break. He’s tied for the most home runs hit before the All-Star break in American League history with 37. He’s on pace for the first 60-home run season since 2001.

But Orioles’ first baseman Chris Davis hasn’t practiced for Monday night’s Home Run Derby yet.

Besides, the first-time All-Star isn’t really sure how to practice for something he’s done for his entire career — and done exceptionally well.

“I’m not really sure what to expect,” Davis said before going 2-for-4 with a double, home run, two runs scored and four RBIs in the Orioles’ 7-4 win over Toronto. “We’ll see how I feel when I get back. I’ll be able to tell you a lot more about it after it’s done than I will before.”

Some analysts have considered Davis, along with American League teammate Prince Fielder, to be the favorites to win the Derby. Davis’ strength, swing and year in which he’s already set career highs in home runs and RBIs while also on pace for a career-high batting average have all played into his status as a favorite.

“To be so strong, to last that long is key for Chris Davis,” ESPN analyst Nomar Garciaparra said last week. “I’m excited to have him in there. I think it’s great because I think that’s what people want to see, and I’m glad he was willing to participate. I think he’s one of the favorites just for the fact because of the year he’s having, things are going so well and I think he’s going to put on a good show.”

But while the Home Run Derby is a power slugger’s showcase, Davis has shown he’s more than that as a hitter this season. He’s batting at a .315 clip, and his 27 doubles are also a career mark.

Even his home runs suggest he’s not a homer-hungry pull hitter. His long balls have been distributed relatively even throughout the outfield, with 13 going to left or left-center field, six going to center field and 18 going to right-center or right field. It’s all been part of the development through his career to be more than just a home run hitter.

Manager Buck Showalter, addressing questions about the chances of Davis messing up his swing or injuring himself in the Derby at Saturday’s “State of the Orioles” address, isn’t worried about anything going wrong with his first baseman in the competition.

“You can get hurt walking through the parking lot,” Showalter said. “You can go into a spell where you’re not swinging it well. That’s a lack of confidence in you and your abilities and your routine and things you do. To say that’s going to do this and do that, I’m proud of Chris and he’s representing the Orioles, and I hope hits them 700 frickin’ feet.”

–Baltimore Sun