Davis able to relax with RedHawks

ROUND ROCK, Texas - The Texas Rangers recently sent Chris Davis back to Triple-A in hopes that he'd be able to make the necessary adjustments both mentally and physically. Lone Star Dugout speaks with the slugging first baseman about his progress since returning to the minor leagues.

Chris Davis quickly endeared himself to Rangers fans last summer when he batted .285 with 17 home runs in just 80 games.

Entering his first full campaign in 2009, the expectations were high. Perhaps unreasonably high for a young, still relatively inexperienced slugger.

Still, Davis was looking for big things out of himself this season, and that simply hasn't happened. While the 23-year-old has played well defensively—and he's belted 15 round-trippers in 258 at-bats—his 114 strikeouts and .202 batting average have been extremely disappointing.

The Rangers know Davis is capable of doing more. They saw it last season in the Majors, and they saw it throughout his minor league career. Davis will likely always be a player that strikes out quite a bit, and he's probably not going to be a candidate to bat .300.

But he also shouldn't be flirting with all-time strikeout records and the Mendoza line. And that's why the Rangers recently sent him back to Triple-A Oklahoma City.

Davis isn't expected to be with the RedHawks for very long. On his way up last season, Davis played in only 31 games with the Triple-A club, batting .333 with 10 homers and 29 strikeouts in 111 at-bats.

The organization is hoping Davis can get right mentally and work his way back into a groove in the minor leagues. The slugger has already played in 14 games, going 21-for-59 [.356] with seven doubles and three home runs. He has five walks and 10 strikeouts.

In the Majors this season, the native Texan had been hopeless against left-handed pitching, batting .143 in 77 at-bats. Although it's a small sample size—and against much less talented competition—Davis is 7-for-20 with five extra-base hits against southpaws in Triple-A.

Only time will tell whether or not Davis' stint in the minor leagues will help right the ship. For now, one thing is certain—Davis was too good for Triple-A pitching last season, and he appears to be too good for it this year.

Jason Cole: Just talk about how your stint in Triple-A has gone since you've been down here.

?Chris Davis: It's going pretty good. I feel like it has been real productive. I had to come back and iron a few kinks out and get back to where I was capable of playing. I feel like that's going well. I feel like I'm making the right adjustments and doing what I need to.

Cole: What are some of those adjustments that you've been making?

Davis: I just basically altered my swing path. I think my swing path, when I was up there, was really long and in-and-out of the zone. I kind of flattened it out a little bit and shortened it up. I basically just did some of the drills that I did in 2007 and 2008. I worked on being a little longer through the zone and I think it has paid off so far.

Cole: Do you feel like a different hitter at all since you've been in Triple-A?

Davis: I mean, I just feel like I'm back to my old self. I feel like I'm back to the groove that I was in when I was up there last year. I just felt like I needed to make a few adjustments that I obviously wasn't able to make up there. To get to come down here for a few games and to figure that out, it has gone well and I'm happy with where I'm at right now.

Cole: Up there in the Majors, were you a little hesitant to make those adjustments because you weren't sure what would happen?

Davis: I think it was just an accumulation of the fact that I was trying to make adjustments and it carried over into the game. I never really had a period where I could sit down and think back and say, ‘Okay, this is what I need to do.' I never had a few days off to work on it in BP and then go into a game.

Going out there in early BP and trying to make those adjustments and then carry it out into the game—that's hard to do, especially at the big league level. But I think a few days down here has done me good. Hopefully I'll keep things rolling and be back up there soon.

Cole: Have the Rangers talked to you about how long you'll be in the minors if you keep hitting like this?

Davis: We had the meeting when I got sent down. They basically told me what when I got hot, I was going to be back up. I'm just going to come down here and continue doing what I'm doing. I'm going to try and stay hot, and hopefully I'll get that call before too long.

Cole: You've been getting some third base time since you've been with OKC. Is that only because Smoak is here?

Davis: I think it has a lot to do with the fact that he's here, and he needs to play first every day. They told me that they wanted us both in the lineup. I obviously wanted to come down here and play—not sit the bench.

It has been good to get back over there and get my feet wet back over there again and see the ball from a different side of the field. I think it's only going to help me be a better first baseman.

Cole: If you went back up to the Majors right now, do you feel like you could go back and do what you did last year? Or do you think you need a little more time?

Davis: I'm confident right now in being able to go up there and say I'm comfortable in the box again. I have my approach back and I have my confidence back. I feel like I could go back up there and be a threat. But like I said, it's their decision. It's up to them. They'll make that call whenever they're ready.

Cole: During your time in the Majors this year, how much were your struggles mental and how much was it physical?

Davis: I think a lot of it had to do with the fact that I wasn't making any mental adjustments. Physical things—I obviously needed to work on my bat path and smooth that out. But mentally, it's tough to go out there every day and grind out four at-bats and still try to get that feel.

I think it was a little bit of both. It was definitely taxing on me mentally and, like I said, it was good to come down here and kind of take a step back and take a breath and get back to the player that I know I'm capable of being.

Cole: Yeah, do you feel like you're getting kind of a mental rest down here? There's not as much pressure on you every day?

Davis: I think so. You're a little bit out of the spotlight, and you have a chance to kind of relax and enjoy the game. I was having fun up there winning, but it was tough to look at my at-bats every night and say I wasn't contributing the offense.

I think my defense really helped me out a lot up there. I was glad to see that improve, and I continue to work on that. But it's definitely good being down here and working with Bobby [Jones], Cooly [Scott Coolbaugh] and some guys I played with before and kind of getting back to my roots.

Cole: How much are you looking forward to going back up and being part of your first pennant race with the Rangers?

Davis: I'm really looking forward to it. Obviously, when you're in the minor leagues, you want to be in the big leagues. I think it's something that I'm excited about and it's something I'm definitely looking forward to. I think the team this year is going to do a lot of great things, and it's going to be a fun second half. I'm ready to get back up there.

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