Move from Texas to Baltimore big for Chris Davis
ARLINGTON, Texas – The change of scenery was good for Baltimore Orioles first baseman Chris Davis, the Texas native who came up through the Rangers organization.
Nearly two years after being traded to the Orioles, Davis was back in Texas fresh off his first All-Star game and leading the majors with 37 home runs.
“I felt like there were a lot of obstacles to overcome here,” Davis said before Friday night’s series opener in Texas. “As many times as I failed and kind of got labeled as an all-or-nothing guy, I think it would have been really hard to kind of reverse those opinions.”
Davis, a fifth-round pick by Texas in the 2006 draft, split parts of four seasons between the Rangers and the minor leagues before being traded with pitcher Tommy Hunter to Baltimore on July 30, 2011, for reliever Koji Uehara.
When he was traded, Davis was hitting .250 with three homers in 28 games that season for Texas, where he was playing behind Mike Napoli, Michael Young, Adrian Beltre and Mitch Moreland. Davis had 24 homers in 48 Triple-A games in 2011.
“That was probably the toughest time for me because I was coming off the bench as a utility guy,” Davis said. “I knew I wasn’t going to get the chance to play every day and I felt like I was ready for it. So that was when I kind of starting praying for a trade just hoping I would get a chance to play in the big leagues as an everyday player somewhere else”
Davis played 266 games for Texas, hitting .248 with 42 homers and 124 RBIs. His 266th game with Baltimore came Friday night, and he was hitting .286 with 72 homers and 191 RBIs for the Orioles.
“There’s nobody on this field tonight that probably has a better minor league resume than Chris Davis,” Baltimore Manager Buck Showalter said. “I’ve talked a lot about Penn State being Linebacker U, Texas should be first baseman U. … It worked out for everybody. It was just a matter of where Chris was going to end up playing. He knew he was going to get an opportunity. And he took advantage of it.”
Davis and his wife still have a house in the Dallas area, where he arrived Wednesday after the All-Star game. There were barbecue and Tex-Mex meals, with plenty of sweet tea to drink, during his short break.
While he still loves Texas, his baseball career definitely benefited from leaving home.
“I got away from a place where I knew everybody and everybody knew me. I had grown up, had so much history really around the Dallas area,” he said. “I think it was nice to get away from that, go up to the Northeast where nobody knew who I was.”
This isn’t Davis’ first series as an opposing player at Rangers Ballpark. There were two regular-season games last summer (1-for-8 with four strikeouts) before the Orioles returned in October for the first American League wild-card game and knocked Texas out of the playoffs.
“I think last year I kind of dealt with all the emotions and everything. And obviously with the playoff win here, that was kind of the icing on the cake,” he said. “It’s always nice to come back and sleep in my own bed and see some friends and feel like I’m at home. I think that’s something that will never change, whether I play here as an opposing player for 10 or 15 more years.”