June 23, 2014

BALTIMORE (AP) Orioles slugger Chris Davis tried just about everything to break out of lengthy hitting slump.

Extra batting practice and intensive video study didn't work. Maybe a seat in the dugout until the ninth inning was what he needed to turn around a frustrating season.

After being excluded from the starting lineup Monday night in a game against the Chicago White Sox, Davis hit a pinch-hit, three-run homer in the ninth to give Baltimore a 6-4 victory.

Before the game, manager Buck Showalter explained the omission of Davis from the starting lineup as simply an effort to get Delmon Young some playing time.

Davis knew better. He attributed the benching to his lack of hitting this month.

''That's pretty evident,'' Davis said. ''It's about putting the best nine out there every game, giving yourself a chance to win, and lately I just haven't been very good.''

Davis started the day batting .216 with 12 homers and 37 RBIs, along with 78 strikeouts in 218 at-bats. Over his previous 14 games, he was 7 for 54 (.130).

Last year, Davis hit .286 and led the majors with 53 home runs and 138 RBIs.

''If you'd have asked me in the offseason or during spring training if I thought I was going to struggle like I'm doing this year, I'd have told you that you were crazy,'' Davis said.

Of the day off, he said, ''Maybe it will give me a chance to clear my head.''

Well, it wasn't quite a complete day off. After his home run, Davis was the center of a celebration at home plate, and he ended up getting a pie in the face from teammate Adam Jones during the postgame interview.

Davis' misery this season began in earnest with an oblique injury that put him on the disabled list. That, however, is not an issue in his current struggle.

''I'm trying to figure it out. I know it's frustrating for people to watch me go through it, but can you imagine how much more frustrating it is to actually go through it?'' Davis said. ''At the same time, we still have a lot of baseball left to play and I know I'm going to get an opportunity to come out of it. I know I'll come out of it.''

Nothing he's tried to reverse the trend has worked, and Davis acknowledged that he hasn't a clue what to do next.

''I'm not really feeling a whole lot at the plate right now other than frustration,'' he said.

A year ago, Davis was so sharp at the plate that almost every swing produced results. This year, not so much.

''When you're hitting .330, it feels like you hit every hole, every pitch you take is a ball,'' he said. ''When you're hitting just over .200, it feels like every pitch you take is a strike and every time you hit a ball hard somebody is standing there.

Jones suggested that a bloop hit, and not a tape-measure home run, could be the cure.

''He might need to get jammed, bad jammed, and he hits it on the label right above his fingers and it falls for a base hit,'' Jones said. ''He might figure it out from there.''

Or, perhaps a game-winning home run will do the trick.

Showalter said Davis would start Tuesday, and the manager was optimistic that his first baseman will soon get back on track.

''He's close,'' Showalter said. ''I have a lot of confidence it will pick up as the season goes.''

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