SARASOTA, Fla. (AP) — Last year was a magical season for the Baltimore Orioles and Chris Davis. It was the Orioles’ first postseason in 15 years, and many people cite the two innings Davis pitched in Boston last May in a 17-inning win as the most memorable.

For Davis, that was last year. He’s eager for 2013. He points out that many of the same people who predicted another losing season for the Orioles in 2012 are saying that last year was a fluke.
“You’re always going to have your critics. They’re always going to count you out. Our job is not to worry about them.”

In 2012, Davis led Baltimore with 33 home runs and 169 strikeouts, but there’s something else he wants to work on. He enters this season as the Orioles’ starting first baseman.

Last year’s first baseman Mark Reynolds, wasn’t offered a contract for this year. Baltimore wants to cut down on its strikeouts, and they rid themselves of Reynolds and Robert Andino, two of the seven hitters who struck out more than 100 times.

Davis, who floundered at first base early last season, is back there. Manager Buck Showalter has worked with him on his defense to try and avoid a repeat of last year.

“I was just trying to do too much,” Davis said.

“Instead of really simplifying things and just trying to do what was asked of me, I tried to do everything. I tried to make every play. It worked against me. Once you start mishandling balls. Once you start making errors, they  can snowball on you in a hurry, and that’s what happened.”

It should help that the Orioles replaced unsteady Wilson Betemit with Manny Machado at third base. Machado was brought up last August, but by then, Reynolds was ensconced at first and Davis was the primary designated hitter.

“The biggest thing for me now is going out there and trying to get some chemistry going with these guys — learning their throws, learning their moves,” Davis said.

In one of the better trades in recent team history, Davis and pitcher Tommy Hunter were traded from Texas to Baltimore in July 2011 for pitcher Koji Uehara. Davis played both first and third base in 2011, but now he wants to be a fixture at first.

“I’ve been here before. It’s nice to have some security and know where I fit in and know what’s expected of me,” Davis said.

Davis, who had three home runs in a game last year, isn’t worried about his strikeouts.

“I’m going to strike out. I don’t walk a lot. I’m an aggressive hitter. When I’ve tried to change that in the past, it’s worked against me. That’s the type of player I am. As far as my teammates and my coaches are concerned, they want me to be that aggressive hitter. That’s when I’m most dangerous,” Davis said.

Notes: LHP Zach Britton will start Saturday’s exhibition opener against Minnesota’s RHP Kevin Correia. RHP Jake Arrieta will follow Britton. Showalter said that he would use nine pitchers. … Minor league C Allan de San Miguel has left the team to join Australia’s entry in the World Baseball Classic.

(Copyright 2013 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)


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