Orioles' Davis booed often as drought continues

BALTIMORE -- The boo birds were out in Birdland.

At the Baltimore Orioles' home opener on Thursday afternoon, slugger Chris Davis was repeatedly booed.

"It's not something I was really expecting," said Davis, who struck out in all three of his at-bats before getting lifted for a pinch-hitter in the bottom of the eighth inning. "It was tough. At the same time, I heard it a lot last year, and rightfully so. I've said it before, I'll say it again: I understand the frustration. Nobody's more frustrated than I am. Especially a day like today."

As usual for the first game at Camden Yards, the Orioles rolled out their trademark orange carpet, which stretched all the way from the centerfield fence to the edge of the infield just behind second base. When Davis ran down the carpet during the announcement of starting lineups, he received moderate applause and a smattering of boos. As the game went on, the sellout crowd of 44,182 jeered the veteran first baseman more and more.

In the bottom of the eighth inning, when Hanser Alberto was announced as the pinch-hitter for Davis, the crowd rose to its feet and gave a standing ovation in support of the move. Seven pitches later, when Alberto lined a single to right field against Yankees reliever Zack Britton, the crowd gave another standing ovation.

"To feel that in front of your home fans is, I mean, I can't even imagine," said Oriole starter Alex Cobb, who got a no-decision in Baltimore's 8-4 loss. "I do feel for him. I understand the fans' frustration, as well."

Davis was acquired by Baltimore in July 2011. With the Orioles, he has twice led the majors in home runs, including the 2013 season, when he hit 53 homers and finished third in the MVP voting. But ever since signing a seven-year, $161 million deal in January 2016, the lefty-hitting slugger has struggled. Last year, when he hit .168 and posted a league-worst 37 percent strikeout rate, Davis became the target of increased ire from Orioles fans.

"My main goal going into spring training was to turn the page and just focus on what lied ahead and try to forget about what had happened last year," said the 33-year old first baseman, who finished last season on an 0-for-21 skid and has gone 0-for-17 with 11 whiffs to start this year. "It's been tougher to start the season, but there's a lot of baseball left to play.

"I'd be foolish if I started wallowing in my own self-pity and feeling sorry for myself. I don't think anybody's feeling sorry for me right now. I think people are ready to see me turn it around, and I'm ready to turn it around."