ST. LOUIS – Chili Davis had a “weird feeling” last week his job as Mets hitting coach was in jeopardy.
That sense dissipated somewhat in recent days, as the team started to show life at the plate with consecutive solid games against the Phillies. Then came Monday night, a third straight game in which the Mets scored at least five runs, in a loss to the Cardinals. Afterward, Davis was summoned to manager Luis Rojas’ office and informed by acting general manager Zack Scott he was fired. Davis’ assistant, Tom Slater, was also fired.
“The one thing I can say is I gave it everything I had,” Davis told The Post as he prepared to depart for New York on Tuesday to collect belongings before returning home to Arizona.
“I put in the time, I put in the hours, I worked my ass off and wherever I went I gave it what I had and what I know and I just hope that whatever I left with these guys, I hope they take it and use it to become good players because there is a great group of guys here. A great group of guys.”
The Mets entered the day 29th in MLB in scoring, averaging 3.23 runs per game. Francisco Lindor, who before the season agreed to a $341 million contract extension, has produced a .494 OPS and gone hitless in his last 21 at-bats.
Scott, in his late-night news conference with reporters to announce the changes, mentioned none of those numbers, but indicated the Mets are moving in a more analytical direction focused on process and preparation. Hugh Quattlebaum was promoted from minor league director of hitting development to replace Davis. The assistant hitting coach’s position was filled by director of player development Kevin Howard.
The 61-year-old Davis said he “probably” would still be the Mets hitting coach if Lindor was producing to his career numbers.
“But I think Francisco Lindor is going to hit,” Davis said. “He’s kind of in one of those funks right now where your focus isn’t there and maybe there is a little bit of in-between or doubt or whatever you call it, mentally. I have been there. The ball comes out of the hand and you don’t differentiate fastball from curveball or whatever and you are just firing. You are hoping to get a hit instead of knowing you are going to get a hit.”
Over the weekend Mets players, most notably Pete Alonso, referred to Donnie Stevenson, a fictional coach who had helped get the team fired up offensively. Davis chuckled at the mention of Donnie Stevenson and admitted the fictional character probably didn’t help his cause.
“The players were having fun and I know they didn’t mean any harm,” Davis said. “It was a fun time for them, but it probably didn’t help. People were just trying to loosen up as a group and it worked that night. They went out and put some runs on the board. I am all for them enjoying the game.”
Davis, who also served as a hitting coach for the Athletics, Red Sox and Cubs, said he was never told by the front office that he needed to change anything in his approach to the job.
“I did it the way I know how and each year the game changes, you get a lot more analytical people involved,” Davis said. “You try to use the information they give you to help the players, to inform the players, but I don’t think anybody tried to change me. I’ve had success with good players and not-so-good players in the approach I have taken with them. It’s more of a personal approach.”
Davis, whose contract runs through this season, said he will enjoy the time at home and see if there is another opportunity for him in baseball.
“I still have a lot to give to the game,” he said. “I might be a little old school for some people, but my thing here was to try to teach hitters how to game plan and take a plan to the plate, execute the plan to understand how pitchers pitch them, situations and all that.”
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