A's hire Chili Davis to be hitting coach
Former slugger ranks among Majors' all-time leading switch-hitters
OAKLAND -- Former Giants teammates and longtime friends Bob Melvin and Chili Davis were always in favor of a reunion.
They tried to create a professional one first in Seattle, then Arizona, but the timing was never right. It is now.
Melvin, the A's manager, handpicked Davis to be his hitting coach in Oakland, a decision that was announced by Oakland on Saturday, completing the club's staff for the 2012 season.
Melvin hoped for such a scenario when standing at the helm of the Mariners (2003-04) and D-backs (05-09), but, "I guess the third time's the charm," Davis said on a conference call Saturday morning.
Davis, who will be 52 in January, served as the hitting coach for Boston's Triple-A Pawtucket affiliate this year, marking his first full season of coaching. The former outfielder and designated hitter previously worked as a part-time hitting coach for the Dodgers' instructional league team and the Australian National Team in 2003-04.
The three-time All-Star slugger played 19 seasons, batting .274 with 350 home runs, 1,372 RBIs, 1,240 runs scored and a .451 slugging percentage in 2,436 games with the Giants, Angels, Twins, Royals and Yankees. He ranks fifth in homers, sixth in RBIs and eighth in walks among switch-hitters in Major League history.
Perhaps no other resume, then, is better suited for an A's team that employs switch-hitters Jemile Weeks and Cliff Pennington.
"Any switch-hitters are going to benefit," Davis said.
However, he ensures his philosophies will extend to the entire lineup. He's a preacher of a multitude of things, including quality at-bats, a trust in instincts, the creation of good mechanical habits, awareness of the game and the understanding of pitchers.
"It's about being a competitor in each at-bat," Davis said. "You're forcing pitchers to work -- being offensive. Trying to get your philosophies across to players is to understand the players and their comfort zone and to try to work from there with them. There's no one way to go about it with so many guys, and I think the biggest thing I learned in the last two years when you're dealing with professional hitters, that one of the most important things is for them to see that you really care and you're consistent with the things that you say to them, that you are really paying attention."
Davis replaces Gerald Perry, whose contract was not renewed, and joins bench coach Chip Hale, pitching coach Curt Young, first-base coach Tye Waller, third-base coach Mike Gallego and bullpen coach Rick Rodriguez on Melvin's staff. Melvin and Davis were teammates in 1986-87.
"This couldn't happen at a better place in a better area," Davis said. "I've always loved the Bay Area. I started my career there, and I think part of the huge excitement for me is that I am in the Bay Area and I get to spend time there again. I think it makes this even more special, being back there."
In the meantime, Davis plans on grabbing hold of the A's roster and collecting a few addresses and phone numbers in an effort to learn about his new players before the start of camp.
The task ahead won't be simple. Oakland's .244 batting average was tied for 23rd in the Majors -- 12th in the American League -- in 2011, and the club's .680 OPS ranked ahead of only the Pirates, Giants, Twins, Padres and Mariners. Moreover, the A's will likely be without the likes of free agents Josh Willingham and Coco Crisp in 2012, electing instead to field a rather young team.
"The desire to teach has always been there," he said. "I love the interaction with players, and I love the game -- watching the game, talking about the game, anything."
Jane Lee is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.