Going hitless over four games is not a big deal when playing 162. It would be met with a shrug when evaluating an entire season, something that even the best hitters go through at one point or another.
You make some adjustments, work through it and get your timing back.
Khris Davis’ 0-for-15 start doesn’t feel like that. It’s different because the A’s are playing just 60 games this season. It’s different because the designated hitter has started the season in a slump.
That heaps pressure on someone with a tendency to do that on his own, and Davis has an issue to work through with the spotlight on.
“It’s unfortunate that you start the season like this,” A’s hitting coach Darren Bush said in a Wednesday morning video conference. “Everybody during the course of a season where you have 600 at bats, everybody is going to go 15 at bats where they don’t have a hit, where you square a few balls up and they don’t fall. The next thing you know, you look up and you’re 0-for-15.
“In the grand scheme of things, it doesn’t really get noticed. In a short season, when you start the season like that, it gets magnified and he’s going to feel the pressure even more because you want to get that first one out of the way.”
Davis will grind through this down period behind the scenes. He’s not in the A’s lineup for Wednesday afternoon’s game against the Colorado Rockies, with an off day scheduled after that.
It’s a good time for a break, considering Davis went 0-for-4 with two strikeouts Tuesday night, all while having at least one runner in scoring position each time he came to the plate.
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Davis has been using the high-velocity pitching machine a ton recently trying to find his timing, to speed up his eyes and help with reaction time. Bush and manager Bob Melvin have said Davis is having quality batting practice sessions that aren’t translating to games.
“His work has been great, really good,” Bush said, via the San Francisco Chronicle. “He worked a ton during the break, he was ready to rock n’ roll. Right now, he’s just missing the pitch he should hit, then they’re making good pitches on him and he’s battling and trying to foul them off, but they’re continually making the good pitch. He’s fighting. Just missing.
“…"Usually when you're just off like this, it's just a timing issue, where you just need more at-bats.”
He may not get them in bulk when the A's start a road series on Friday in Seattle. The A's are going to pick their spots with Davis over letting him grind through this while playing in games. This is another byproduct of a 60-game slate, where each contest is 2.7 times heavier than normal.
"We’ll back off on the workload a little bit and probably try to pick some matchups, maybe against lefties – we have a lot of lefties coming up – and get him back going again and get him back in the lineup," Melvin said Wednesday morning. "We’ll do things a little bit differently than you’ve seen in the past."
Both Davis and the A’s are hoping they go better than what has happened thus far, where he has had seven strikeouts in 15 at bats.
Davis has to find his timing again to deliver the type of power numbers he has produced since joining the A’s in 2016. They slipped a bit late in 2019 while he was dealing with a hip issue that has been resolved at this point. He can’t let the frustration mount if the slump continues, which is far easier said than done for a player who wants to do well.
“KD wants to have success, so he puts a lot of pressure on himself just like anybody else,” Davis said. “He wants to help the team win. The less success you have, the more pressure you put on yourself. KD is no exception to that.
“He’s okay. I’d say it’s like any stretch in a season where you don’t have success that you want. You get frustrated, but at the same time you know that tomorrow’s another day. You have to shrug it off and get in there, get to work and be ready to go.”