Athletics' DH Khris Davis, Healthy Once More, Won't Feel Pressure as Part of Potent Lineup

John Hickey

Khris Davis and Bob Melvin haven’t seen each other in person in over three months.

That will end in the coming week or so with the Oakland A’s due to get Spring Training II (yeah, we know it’s summer, but what the heck) going at the Oakland Coliseum.

When they do see each other, it seems that they will be on the same page. Both men see a rebound for Davis, who was injured last year and after a fast start, tailed off badly. He’d increased his home runs totals in each of the previous six seasons (11, 22, 27, 42, 43 and 48) before tumbling down to 23 last year.

They also see him being able to do his thing without feeling any outside pressure to prove himself. In the first year of a two-year deal, Davis will be the A’s designated hitter one more time, and 2019 “is behind me, and I’m looking forward to a new season.”

“I just want to be true to me and be true to my team,” Davis said recently. “I don’t feel like I have to live up to certain expectations.”

Melvin said Thursday morning that he doesn’t see Davis needing to play under pressure. He doesn’t have to carry the offense; he just needs to play his own game. Even with Davis having a down year in 2019, the A’s were fifth in the American League in runs scored and registered 97 wins. In fact, the A’s scored 32 more runs last year than they did in 2018 when Davis hit 48 bombs to lead the league.

“I think we showed last year that we can pick up the slack in other areas,” Melvin said. “Everybody has years that aren’t their best, and when you look at the consistency Khris has had over the time he’s been in Oakland, it’s been miraculous.

“We expect him to rebound. He’s healthy again, and that’s important.”

Davis had 10 homers in his first 17 games last year when the injuries began to crop up. On May 5, a left hip contusion started it all. Two weeks later, suffered a strained right groin. In late June he suffered a hand injury. He got better, but his swing didn’t.

“He wasn’t hurt by the end of the season,” Melvin said. “But sometimes injuries make you do things a little bit differently. You get in some bad habits, and your confidence goes down. So, I expect Khris to be the same guy we’ve seen for the three previous years.”

Davis, 32, doesn’t even have contract pressure bearing down on him. His two-year deal carries through 2021, so he’ll have not just this shortened year but also a, presumably, regular 162-game set next season to show his stuff.

“I want to be left alone to play; there’s no contract hanging over me,” Davis said. “I’m going to go through streaks. My teammates know how real I am.”

And he’s healthy again.

Follow Athletics insider John Hickey on Twitter: @JHickey3

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