Ike Davis Looks Forward to Fresh Start With the Pirates


When the Pittsburgh Pirates were rumored to have an interest in former New York Mets first baseman Ike Davis during the winter months, Davis had his fingers crossed.

“I did kind of want the Pirates because my brother lives in Sarasota area, I wanted to spring train there,” Davis said. “But it didn’t work out that way. Hopefully next year.”

This year, Pirates manager Clint Hurdle is looking forward to drawing on what he called a “clean chalkboard” for Davis after the 27-year-old endured a rough 2013 season in which spent time in the minor leagues.

The skipper said he had a conversation with his new player this afternoon, but didn’t want to “overload” him.

“I told him we’ll catch up as we go along, I welcomed him,” Hurdle said. “We believe he’s going to add value to our club. I reinforced the fact that he doesn’t need to carry our club.”

General manager Neal Huntington said Friday he is betting the Pirates can get Davis back on the right track to the form he showed when he hit 32 home runs and posted a .770 OPS in 2012. The first baseman showed glimpses of that form in the late months of 2013 before he was shut down with a severe oblique strain on Aug. 31.

Prior to that, Davis hit seven home runs in 92 plate appearances during his stint in Triple-A Las Vegas. Upon his return, Davis recorded a .736 OPS in 76 plate appearances in the month of July and a .990 OPS in 94 turns at the plate in August.

When he returned to the big leagues, Davis said his most important adjustment wasn’t a mechanical one but just trusting himself more.

“Your hands are fast enough to hit fastballs, you don’t need to cheat,” Davis said. “When you cheat, you don’t see the ball as well. I’m not cheating anymore, I’m just trying to see it and hit it.”

While Davis said it was weird leaving the only organization he’s been a member of for his entire career, he looks forward to a clean slate.

“It’s a good thing to play for someone that wants you and you’re getting good playing time and you get a fresh start,” Davis said. “Just sometimes you can get in a little rut, in the same spot over and over and over. Hopefully I can let my talents come out and help the team.”

In Pittsburgh, Davis will have that chance as he pairs with Gaby Sanchez in Hurdle’s first base platoon. The lefty will primarily draw starts against right-handed pitching and will receive more playing time than he received in New York (25 plate appearances in 11 games) which he said is most important for him right now.

“I feel like I have the right mentality right now and worked on the right stuff in the offseason to have a better performance during the season and I just need to get out there and do it.”

It should also help that Davis enters a healthy situation Pittsburgh after his situation with the Mets soured of late.

“It was pretty negative over there for me for a little while and hopefully I can come here and create some positive energy and start building forward and start playing better,” Davis said.

For one, it helps that the Pirates are building off their first trip to the playoffs in 20 years while the Mets are stuck in a transition period. As a Pirate, Davis wants to help build.

“I haven’t gone to the playoffs in my career,” Davis said. “I haven’t really had too many winning seasons either so it’d be nice to hopefully jump on the Pirates bandwagon too.”

Nate Barnes

Author: Nate Barnes

Nate covers the Pirates beat for Pirates Prospects, and is an English Writing major at the University of Pittsburgh. Nate has covered the Pirates for Pittsburgh Sports Report, and covered Pitt Men's Basketball, Duquesne Men's Basketball, and Pitt Baseball beats prior to this summer. You can find Nate on Twitter @NateBarnes_ where he'll keep you updated on each and every time Clint Barmes breaks up a no-hit bid with one-out in the third inning of ballgames.

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  • Lee Young

    “before he was shut down with a severe oblique strain on Aug. 31.”

    In his career it seems Ike is constantly getting shutdown with something.

  • Ian Rothermund

    Question stemming from the game tonight…

    How long is Grilli’s leash as being the closer of this team. I mean, there are clearly better options available on the team now that have continuously outperformed him. How many more saves will he realistically be allowed to blow before something logical is done? The Brewers had their best bats up in the 9th, and the pirates countered with arguably their 3rd or 4th best bullpen pitcher. This is idiotic.

    • Kelso

      Yep. Before the last two blown saves I thought grilli was likely done. I would say it’s now official. Frankly, it’s a shame as the guy was a great pirate to root for. At this point I think a may prefer mazzaro on the roster over him.

      • Ian Rothermund

        I think preferring Mazzaro is taking it a bit too far, but there’s no logical argument to be made stating how Grilli’s better than Wilson, Watson, or Melancon. Give Morris another couple of months of experience with that 2-seamer in game, and I might put him in that group too.

    • bucsws2014

      How many more blown saves does Joe Nathan or Kenley Jansen need before they’re replaced as closers? Kimbrel had to be lifted in the ninth last night.

      It was Braun hitting the HR (while first pitch swinging) not some scrub. I’d be more concerned if Grilli had thrown a mistake on an 0-2 count. If he blows two more in next 10-14 days, then I think it’s a legitimate concern. Not yet.

      Better question is how long a leash does Wandy have? And what does Neal do if Wandy continues to suck for $8.5 million? And shouldn’t Morton be more consistent by now? I’ve been a huge Chuck fan even through the 2-12 season, but I honestly think he should be much better than what he’s shown this year. With his stuff, he should be flirting with no-nos, not getting rocked wiht big innings.

      • Ian Rothermund

        There seems to be a definite period of inconsistency to start the year for much of the team. Realistically though, how far behind is Wandy from missing that time last year? He missed a large portion of the season, then came back on the regular Spring Training schedule like someone who pitched all of last season. I think he’s a prime candidate for a “rehab” stint. It may just be a delay tactic, but the guy is out there right now throwing BP fastballs and not commanding it very well. Spending a couple months on a throwing program could possibly build some more arm strength and get him back on his game. I think that would likely be the best move to derive the greatest amount of value from his current situation. He’s not pitching like he’s worth any part of that 8 million. Cumpton looks ready now.

  • https://profiles.google.com/105668650510920614054 Brian Bernard

    Honestly I think Grilli has actually pitched better than I expected him to at this point. His fastball is a little better than end of last season and his slider looks strong. Fastball location is a problem, quality is ok. Is there a better option on the team is a good question?
    Wilson, Morris, Watson, Melancon.
    Of the four who gets the soap? All four have as many question marks as Grilli really – The dominant guy doesn’t stand out to me. All four have been lashed recently to some degree including Watson yesterday. I probably stick with Grilli at this point although next year I’d lean Melancon.

    • Y2JGQ2

      I don’t really like Melancon, he doesn’t have anything overpowering, and has had consistent problems putting batters away…..not getting outs, but putting batters away. Grilli’s only issue right now is command, his stuff is back, but i think the lack of work in spring training (much because of Hurdle’s ideas of keeping him fresh) is really backfiring as i figured it would. Give Grilli two more weeks and hopefully he’ll be good.

    • bucsws2014

      Well he’s proving he can’t pitch to Braun. Ugh. Two days in a row.

      I almost hate to mention it, but if Braun is actually clean these days, why did he need to juice in the first place? The guy can hit.