Mets hitting coach Chili Davis unsure about rejoining team

NEW YORK (AP) — New York Mets hitting coach Chili Davis hasn’t decided if he will rejoin the team at any point this season because of concerns about the coronavirus.

The 60-year-old Davis has been working remotely from his Arizona home during the pandemic, doing his best to help Mets hitters throughout their summer training camp in New York this month. On a video conference call with reporters Wednesday, he said he’s at risk due to underlying health conditions that he preferred to keep private.

“It’s a tough decision,” Davis said. “It’s not easy. It’s kind of boring sitting here not doing what I signed up to do.”

New York opens the 60-game regular season Friday at home against Atlanta.

Davis said he’s “very much in contact” with all the players and especially manager Luis Rojas and assistant hitting coach Tom Slater, who is subbing on site at Citi Field. Davis said he and Slater talk at least two or three times a day.

Mets staffers send videos to Davis of batting practice and simulated games.

“I do have a chance to watch what they’re doing on the field while I’m not there, and if there’s something that I see that I need to talk to someone about, then I will text them first and then call them and we’ll have conversations,” Davis said.

“It’s not smooth, believe me,” he added. “I’m hoping that it’ll get easier — I don’t think it will.”

All-Star hitter Jeff McNeil dropped in on the Zoom call, surprising Davis and eliciting a big smile.

“What up, Chili dog?” McNeil said.

“What’s up, Mac? How you doing? You doing those drills?” Davis replied.

“I just got done. Just beatin’ balls up the middle. Every day,” McNeil said. “Try to knock a single up the middle for you today, all right? Good to see you Chili dog!”

Davis is in his second season as Mets hitting coach after holding the same position with Oakland, Boston and the Chicago Cubs.

“It’s different, but I have to do what I have to do,” he said.

The switch-hitter played 19 seasons in the majors from 1981-99, batting .274 with 350 home runs, 1,372 RBIs and an .811 OPS with the Giants, Angels, Twins, Royals and Yankees. He made three All-Star teams, won three World Series championships and was the first player born in Jamaica to reach the major leagues.

NOTES: The Mets signed outfielder Juan Lagares and infielder Brian Dozier to minor league contracts and added them to the 60-man player pool, which stands at 57. The team released veteran outfielder Melky Cabrera and infielder Gordon Beckham. Lagares won a Gold Glove as New York’s center fielder in 2014 but struggled with injuries and offense with the Mets from 2013-19. He became a free agent and signed a minor league contract with San Diego in February but was released last week. Dozier, an All-Star second baseman with Minnesota in 2015, batted .238 with 20 homers, 50 RBIs and a .771 OPS in 135 games for the World Series champion Washington Nationals last year. He also signed a minor league contract with the Padres in February and was released this month.

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