Chili Davis back with Mets in person after working remotely last season

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PORT ST. LUCIE — Chili Davis is back and half vaccinated.

The Mets’ hitting coach, who worked remotely last season because a preexisting condition put him at high risk if he were to contract COVID-19, has arrived at spring training with one dose of the vaccine in his arm. He’s set to get the second shot while he is in Florida, which has given him the peace of mind to rejoin the Mets after a challenging 2020 season coaching from afar.

“Had I come back here without being vaccinated, it would have been pretty uncomfortable,” Davis said Wednesday after a Mets workout. “It makes things more normal for me. I know it doesn’t prevent you from getting the virus, but it does help a lot knowing that it’s going to help my body fight the virus a lot better. I was so glad when it happened because then the decision to come back here and do what I do, and what I love to do, was a lot easier of a decision to make.”

Chili Davis
Chili Davis
AP

The 61-year-old Davis coached from his home in Arizona last season, joining the Mets’ hitters on pregame Zoom calls and offering his help over the phone or screen. But it was hardly the same as being in the room with his players, which multiple Mets referenced during the season.

“I missed being around them as much as they missed being around me because the conversations are important,” Davis said. “Especially when you’re in the heat of a game.”

Now, Davis is back with an offense that led the majors in hitting (.272) and OPS-plus (122) last season but still had its flaws. The 2020 Mets scored 4.77 runs per game — good for 13th in MLB — and left a league-high 445 runners on base. They struggled mightily with runners in scoring position, batting just .245, which fell short of the .256 league average. That included hitting just 4-for-36 (.111) with four sacrifice flies with runners on second and third.

Davis has plans to fix that in spring training. In camp two years ago, he would take hitters who weren’t playing on a given day to a back field to work on situational hitting — walking through situations and discussing plans of attack. That will make a comeback this spring.

“Not just actively trying to work on it, but we would discuss it,” Davis said. “We go through it pretty much every day because what we’re trying to do is create a habit, to where the thinking is done on deck. By the time you walk up to the plate, you have a plan on how you’re going to approach that at-bat.”

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