Chili's skills perfectly suited for role as teacher

Red Sox hitting coach blends experience from playing days with problem solving

Chili's skills perfectly suited for role as teacher

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Some of the best hitting coaches -- and, for that matter, pitching coaches -- were mediocre as active players.

But there are exceptions, like new Red Sox hitting coach Chili Davis. The switch-hitter clubbed 350 homers over 19 seasons, to go along with a sturdy OPS of .811.

"I'm different," said Davis.

Davis takes pride in being as good a teacher as he was a hitter, in being as prepared as he can for every situation with each student. In his second career, Davis is as respected as he was in his first one.

When Boston parted ways with Greg Colbrunn after the 2014 season, the team searched for the right man to lead its offense. All along, Davis was who the Red Sox wanted, and they were overjoyed when Davis agreed to leave the Oakland Athletics.

Everything manager John Farrell has seen so far in camp justifies why they targeted Davis.

"One, he's got a credible message," said Farrell. "Credible in the sense of what his personal experiences have been. He's got a unique way of being able to talk mechanics to a certain hitter, and yet his real strength is in game-planning and what to look for, what's the out pitch of a given pitcher on the mound."

Why is Davis able to break the stereotype that great hitters struggle to have the same success as coaches?

"I just think I look at things different sometimes," Davis said. "I look at my failures moreso than my success. I look at what allowed me to be successful as a player and as an individual."

As a player, Davis was a problem-solver. And those skills translate to his current profession.

"I dwelled more on my failures," Davis said. "'Why did I make this out?' And I tried to correct things throughout my career. I'm constantly trying to correct things. If something didn't feel right, I fixed it, I tried to fix it.

"I mean, I went through slumps, too, so when I look at these guys, hitting isn't easy. It's a tough process. You try to get things to where I don't want to be overly mechanical, because I think for me as a young player, if you think too much about mechanics, it hurt me at one point.

"But I do want to have proper mechanics that fits my swing. But I also want to play the cat-and-mouse game between 60 feet, six inches and think through situations -- all that stuff. My tendency is to go about things and say, 'Why did you do that? What are you looking for up there? And what pitch do you need to get? What is this guy going to try to do to you?' More mental things, thinking lessons."

Davis has been able to relate equally well to the established veterans and the young players trying to prove themselves.

"He's one of the greatest switch-hitters they've had in the league," said third baseman Pablo Sandoval. "I'm a switch-hitter, and I can pick out a lot of things from him. He teaches me how to keep it simple from both sides of the plate."

"He's definitely an easy guy to communicate with," said shortstop Xander Bogaerts. "He gives a lot of good information, and he's always prepared."

Ian Browne is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.