Through the month of March, leading up to MLB Opening Day on April 1,
Sports Spectrum is highlighting 21 Christ-following players to watch in 2021.
After a few years plagued by injuries and inconsistent play, the longest-tenured Oriole, first baseman Chris Davis, enters his 11th year in Baltimore seeking to return to the form that made him the 2013 and 2015 MLB home run leader.
Davis saw his playing time diminish toward the end of 2019, and he played in only 16 games in 2020, a season already cut short by a pandemic. He batted .115 with six hits and one RBI before ending his season early due to a left knee injury.
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The 35-year-old has high hopes for himself entering the 2021 season, despite Orioles management saying Davis would play more of a reserve role this summer.
“I did a lot of work this offseason with a physical therapist … and I feel really good,” Davis said in a video conference call from Orioles spring training in February. “Definitely not any younger, but my legs feel better than I thought they would.”
Later he added, “Every year of my career, I approached spring training to compete for at-bats. That’s really how I think any player should approach it because if you just come in thinking it’s your job and you don’t have to do anything, you’re not doing yourself or anybody in the clubhouse any favors.
“That’s the way I approached this offseason and this coming spring training, I’m going to continue to do the same.”
After only three games in spring training this year, however, Davis hit a roadblock on his path back to being an everyday starter for the Orioles when he went down with a lower back strain. On Friday, he was placed on the 60-day injured list.
It’s the latest obstacle in a career filled with them, but few people know resilience and perseverance like Davis. Despite the injuries and decline in his play, he knows not to look at his struggles on a baseball diamond and feel bad for himself. He remains grateful for all God has done in his life.
Back in January 2016, after Davis had established himself as one of the game’s premier long ball hitters (earning himself the nickname “Crush Davis”), he signed a seven-year, $161 million contract with Baltimore. When Davis joined the Sports Spectrum Podcast in December, he discussed how he and his wife, Jill, aim to steward the money they’ve been given by God to be a blessing to others.
Last fall, the couple donated $1 million to Compassion International to aid at-risk children facing even more challenges during the pandemic. A year earlier, the Davises donated $3 million to a Maryland children’s hospital that the couple already frequents to visit with the children.
“Throughout the struggles that I’ve faced over the course of my career, I always had peace that God was at work, and I felt like there were instances where I really needed something tangible to kind of hold onto and God provided that — whether it was through a relationship, whether it was through some kind of serving that [my wife and I] did in the community …
“I never lost sight of that fact that God was at work and that He was going to do something good. He was going to bring something good out of this, whether it was through baseball or after baseball.”
Davis, a three-time nominee for MLB’s Roberto Clemente Award given annually to a player heavily involved in community outreach, knows that Christ calls him to give back to those around him from what he’s been given.
“We want our legacy to be about God and not about baseball,” Davis said on the podcast. “We want it to be bigger than the game of baseball.”
So whether Davis’ bat leads him toward a resurgent 2021 or he continues to see his playing time limited, Davis knows God is working all things for good according to His divine plan.
In 2017, Davis shared more of his story of faith in Christ for The Increase:
— 21 MLB Players to Watch in 2021
— Orioles’ Chris Davis, wife Jill donate $1 million to Compassion International
— Orioles’ Chris Davis sees God’s plan at work in using his struggles to help others
— Orioles’ Chris Davis, wife Jill donate $3 million to Maryland children’s hospital
— 9-year-old Red Sox fan inspired Orioles’ Chris Davis to break out of slump