Fall 2021 SS Magazine

Orioles' Chris Davis sees God's plan at work in using his struggles to help others

In 12 MLB seasons, Chris Davis had never played in St. Louis’ Busch Stadium. He’s always been in the American League with the Texas Rangers and Baltimore Orioles, and inter-league play never worked out for him to compete in one of baseball’s finest ballparks.

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So he was thrilled when he saw that Baltimore’s first road trip of 2020 was scheduled for St. Louis, and would actually be the Cardinals’ home-opening series. Davis even planned for his wife, Jill, to make the trip with him as a little husband-wife getaway.

To make things even better, the 34-year-old got off to an incredibly hot start in spring training. The Orioles’ first baseman was batting .467 with three home runs and nine RBIs in 15 at-bats through nine games. The numbers were in stark contrast to his past two seasons, in which he hit. 168 and .179.

But then the coronavirus halted the 2020 season until further notice.

In a recent video chat with former major leaguer Scott Linebrink — who works for Water Mission, which Davis supports — Davis said he’s spent much of the past few years in a state of confusion as his game on the field has struggled mightily. He found himself confused even further when this season came to an abrupt stop after such a strong start.

“I was so encouraged by spring training, the offeseason, just the way I felt spiritually and physically going into the season,” he said. “I just felt like God had been preparing me for some really exciting things. For that to all be put on hold, I was definitely confused. But at the same time I wanted to stay in that positive mindset and to remind myself that God’s in control and He loves us. … There’s a lot of unknowns right now, but reminding myself and reminding my family that God’s in control has been something that’s really given me peace through all this.”

Upon learning of the postponement of the season, Davis and his family returned to their home in Texas, where he went right back into “offseason mode” of training and working out at home. In his quiet time with the Lord, Davis feels God has reminded him how important a relationship with God is.

“We are meant to be in constant relationship with Him, and it’s not a convenient relationship. It’s a very deep, intimate, compassionate relationship. I think that this has really helped me realize that it’s time to stop scheduling God in between our appointments and our meetings and our to-do lists, and really give Him all of us. And that’s really easy to see right now when you have to have total dependence on God,” he said.

Later in the chat, Davis talked about his much-publicized struggles. After leading the majors in home runs in 2013 and ’15, Davis signed a big contract extension with the Orioles. But he’s struggled so much since — culminating in the longest hitless streak in baseball history (0-for-54) — that he’s contemplated retirement.

“I came from leading the big leagues in home runs for the second time in my career, signed a multi-million-dollar contract, finally had security in the game, and could not have felt more insecure on a baseball field in my life,” he said.

The struggles led him to question why he was still playing the game. But this past offseason, Davis came to understand more of God’s plan.

“He grooms us and He grows us and He matures us in our faith, and then He gives us opportunities to talk about that, to give people a chance to hear that perspective, to hear what it’s like to go through that struggle and then relate to them,” Davis said, adding, “I think people can relate to those that have struggled, that have gone through struggles, especially in the public eye.”

Davis has three years, including 2020, remaining on the $161 million contract he signed after the 2015 season.

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