BOSTON – In his 11 years as a major league batting coach, Jim Presley has been a proud mentor of some excellent hitters. None compares with Chris Davis.
“I’ve never seen a guy have this kind of offensive year since I’ve been coaching,” Presley said. “I’ve never seen anybody hit .300 like he has and do damage as far as at the plate. I’ve just never seen it.”
In his four seasons with the Florida Marlins, Presley had Miguel Cabrera, Craig Coghlan and Hanley Ramirez all have standout seasons.
“I’ve seen some pretty good things, but this right here is something special and I’m glad for him because when he got over here, he was just feeling around. It wasn’t until kind of towards the end of last year that he kind of figured it out,” Presley said.
“He stays the other way, and that’s what we were trying to get him to do from the get-go, and I think he just feels comfortable. He told me the other day he feels comfortable being here around the organization and the coaches.”
Davis came to the Orioles from Texas in July 2011 with a great resume as a minor league slugger, but as a player who couldn’t put it quite together as a major league hitter.
Presley has helped impress upon Davis the importance of the mental approach of hitting.
“I would say it’s 70, 75 percent mental. Your mind tells your body what to do and whatever your mind’s thinking, if it’s negative thoughts, or I’m going to punch out or this guy is nasty, it’s just going to tell your body what to do. At this level, it’s more mental than it is physical,” Presley said.
“They have to learn how to think and learn how to deal with failure. They have to learn how to handle failure at this level.”
Entering Wednesday’s game, Davis had 51 home runs, 41 doubles, 184 strikeouts and 66 walks—all career highs.
“Those strikeouts. We want to keep him at 180. Every he had those first two months, people stopped pitching to him and he had to figure out…They just stopped pitching to him, and he started walking a little bit more. He gets frustrated they were trying to pitch around him, and I think that’s why his strikeouts are high,” Presley said.
“He has shown good patience, but sometimes he gets to drive that run in and gets out of whack and swings at ball four, gets himself out a lot.”
Davis has been able to contribute to the Orioles in other ways besides his bat. His play at first base has been improved, too.
“He doesn’t have to hit every day. I don’t have to question him about ‘why are you doing this? Why are you doing that?’ I just try and get him more in the right direction and let him take over,” Presley said.
“We probably worked harder last year, the last three months of the season trying to get him to do what he’s capable of doing, and he’s doing it. It’s good for him. He deserves it. He’s worked at it.”