The Norman Transcript

Sports

July 16, 2013

From strikeout to slugger

(Continued)

NEW YORK —

When he was called up by the Rangers in 2008, he homered in his first start. The Texas boy earned his nickname playing for a team in his home state.

But he also struck out — a lot.

In 2009, he fanned 150 times in 391 at-bats and his on-base percentage fell below .300. A year later, his batting average dipped to .192 and he only homered once in 120 at-bats.

He sure did think about becoming a real-life Crash Davis while riding the Triple-A express in his last three years with the Rangers.

But near the trade deadline in 2011, he was acquired by the Orioles, along with pitcher Tommy Hunter, for reliever Koji Uehara and cash.

That’s when things started to change.

Davis switched to the bigger bat in 2012, got consistent playing time from the Orioles and produced. He hit 33 homers and drove in 85 runs last season. By the way, he also earned a win pitching two innings in a 17-inning game at Boston.

Working with Orioles hitting coach Jim Presley, Davis started using more of the field and staying back in his stance.

And while he still struck out plenty, Davis made more contact and swung at fewer pitches out of the strike zone.

He hit seven homers in the final seven games of 2012, helping Baltimore to their first postseason since 1997.

That was only the start.

This year his swings have turned heads, especially in his own dugout.

“Every time he steps into the batter’s box I think everyone on our team is watching him seeing if he can do something special again,” All-Star teammate J.J. Hardy said, “and he hasn’t disappointed at all.”

Said Manny Machado: “Now it’s just every day we’re expecting it.”

Davis set a record with 16 RBIs in the first four games of the season and has been locked in since. He has 27 doubles, 93 RBIs, a .392 on-base percentage and a .717 slugging average in 95 games.

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