Davis on record strikeout pace
Rangers plan to give first baseman time to work things out
SAN FRANCISCO -- Chris Davis hit a milestone Saturday night. He struck out for the 100th time this season in his 219th at-bat.
According to the Elias Sports Bureau, that's the fewest at-bats that a player has needed to reach the 100-strikeout mark. Melvin Nieves needed 235 at-bats to strike out 100 times in 1997 while with the Tigers.
Davis was still in the lineup Sunday afternoon against Giants left-hander Barry Zito. He was the only left-handed hitter in the lineup. Manager Ron Washington said the Rangers are still sticking with Davis even though he went into Sunday's game hitting .143 in his past 30 games. That's dropped his average to .196, the second-lowest among Major League players with enough at-bats to qualify for the batting title.
"It's not the strikeouts that's bothering me, it's just that I'm not having productive at-bats," Davis said. "I don't feel overmatched. I feel like I'm handicapping myself. There's something I'm doing mentally or physically that's not letting me do what I'm capable of doing."
The Rangers continually discuss their first-base situation internally and it's clear that they can't stay with Davis forever if he continues to struggle at the plate.
"There's no timetable," Washington said. "We're certainly trying to continue to give him confidence and hope today is the day he comes out of it."
The Rangers don't have any clear alternatives. Hank Blalock could play first base but he's not as accomplished defensively as Davis. That would also mean Andruw Jones at designated hitter and he went into Sunday's game hitting .183 over his last 21 games. That's dropped his average from .340 to .246.
In fact, with so many players in a slump throughout the lineup, Davis' struggles at the plate are becoming more glaring.
"Of course it's showing up more because the rest of the offense is struggling," Washington said. "I don't think we were relying on him to be a part of the offense that carries us. If we were getting it done in other places, it wouldn't be noticeable. But because of the expectations everybody put on him, it just rears its head."
Justin Smoak, their first-round pick from the 2008 First-Year Player Draft, is on the disabled list at Double-A Frisco with a strained quadriceps muscle. The Rangers have looked around for offensive help but are still looking more at pitching in the trade market. They don't have the financial flexibility to take on a big salary in any case.
"Wash has pretty much told me he's going to stick with me," Davis said. "He expects me to come out of it. But he's made it clear I have to learn to make adjustments up here. It's all a part of it."
T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.