Davis eager to face old team
NEW YORK – Ike Davis is quite happy in his new home with the Pittsburgh Pirates.
“Going to get coffee and I don’t get hitting tips,” Davis said Monday of the difference between playing in Pittsburgh and New York while sitting in the visiting dugout at Citi for the first time.
Of course, that might be more a reflection on how well he’s hitting than the change of scenery.
Davis is batting over .300 for the Pirates since arriving in a trade with the Mets April 18 for minor league right-hander Zack Thornton and a player to be named.
The 27-year-old first baseman was dealt after being benched in favor of Lucas Duda, but the Mets had long before soured on the once promising prospect who was popular in the clubhouse even as he lost favor with upper management.
Now, in a three-game series, he gets to show the Mets what they gave up on. In the first game, Davis went 0-for-2 at the plate with a walk before Gabby Sanchez replaced him in the eighth inning.
“It’s going to be fun,” he said. “I’m excited.”
Davis, the son of former big league pitcher Ron Davis, became toast of the town as a rookie in 2010, hitting 19 homers with 71 RBIs. He got off to a strong start the following year, but missed most of the season with an ankle injury.
In 2012 he hit 32 homers despite slumping early and finishing at .227. He had another poor start a year later, and spent nearly a month in the minors – with many people weighing in on his sweeping left-handed swing.
He struggled again at the start of this season even though he felt as if he were in better form during spring training.
“I actually had some good times here,” Davis said. “I actually played well except I just couldn’t find my swing early in the seasons.”
The Pirates made the transition real comfortable, not even attempting to tinker with Davis’ swing until he asked to work on not bending his front leg as much.
The slight change has made a huge difference.
In 99 at-bats he’s hitting .303 with two homers, 11 RBIs and a .395 on-base percentage, nearly .100 points better than in his 12 games in New York.
In comparison, Davis’ Mets counterpart Luca Duda is hitting .208 with two homers and 11 RBIs since April 18.
Pirates manager Clint Hurdle isn’t worried Davis’ power numbers are low. He actually encouraged Davis to take a different approach at the plate.
“That’s not what we’re looking for, a power hitter. We’re looking for a good hitter who has some power,” Hurdle said. “I think that helped his mindset coming in.”
Davis joked about being able to leave his house without being hassled, but Hurdle thinks the less stressful environment of Pittsburgh has played a big role.
“That definitely can be part of it,” said Hurdle, who played for the Mets for parts of a few seasons in the 1980s . “It’s media light. The players don’t have the media challenges you have in L.A. and in New York. “
Davis expects to be booed, but he’s fine with that.
“It’s just another game,” Davis said. “I want to get a hit every at-bat because that’s the game plan against every team.”