Ike Davis fields a hit from Yangervis Solarte of the New York Yankees in the eighth on May 17, 2014 at Yankee Stadium in the Bronx borough of New York City.The Yankees defeated the Pirates 7-1.
By Bill Brink / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
NEW YORK — Near the end of Ike Davis’ session with reporters — a ritual for any ballplayer returning to the city from which he was traded but one that in this case carried more significance — he summarized the answers he had given the whole time into one thought.
“You’re putting too much emphasis on the Mets,” Davis said in response to a question about using his trade from the Mets to the Pirates as motivation. “I had a great couple years. I don’t hate them. They’re not really in my focus anymore. I had a great time, I made great friendships, but I’m on the Pirates. There’s not a hatred toward the Mets, or like vengeance.”
Davis was in town over the weekend to play the New York Yankees, not the Mets, but he returned for the first time since the April 18 trade, when the Pirates added this left-handed first baseman in exchange for minor league reliever Zack Thornton and a player to be named.
Media reports that the Mets were looking to trade either Davis or Lucas Duda had continued for months.
“We like each other, we wished it could work, but you can’t have two first basemen that are both left-handed on the same team,” Davis said. “Obviously something had to change.”
Since joining the Pirates, Davis has enjoyed not having to discuss trade rumors, which are out of his control, or tough nights at the plate, which happen in the course of a season.
“It’s New York. It’s an aggressive media place,” he said. “You have to make a story. You have to write something.”
Davis understood. In addition to spending parts of five seasons with the Mets, the team that drafted him in the first round in 2008, Davis’ father, Ron, pitched for the Yankees from 1978-81. Davis remembered attending Old-Timers’ Day at the old Yankee Stadium as a 12- or 13-year-old, hitting balls in the cage with Scott Brosius and seeing Derek Jeter.
Davis noted that although the Mets opted to move him, the good stretches in his time there, including his 32 home runs in 2012, made him an attractive player to the Pirates.
“It’s nice to play for somebody that actually wants you or thinks you can help the team,” he said. “Obviously the Mets thought I could help the team for a couple years, because I was there for almost five. I had one bad season and they had to make a change.”
Davis has played well since joining the Pirates. His on-base percentage, always a strength, is .378 in 90 plate appearances entering a game tonight against the Baltimore Orioles at PNC Park. Davis has drawn 18 walks to go with his 14 strikeouts. The Pirates offered some thoughts on his approach at the plate based on their research, but nothing revolutionary.
Manager Clint Hurdle waited a bit before presenting Davis with the notes, allowing him to acclimate himself to his new team.
“I had a conversation with Ike upon his arrival,” Hurdle said. “I said down the road we’ll get to where you’ve been. I just want to let you know where you are and who we are. We’re happy to have you.”
Davis was cordial when talking about the Mets and made many of his statements with a smile or a chuckle. He likely will do it again soon: The Pirates visit the Mets next Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday at Citi Field.
•NOTE — Class AAA Indianapolis right fielder Gregory Polanco, the Pirates’ top prospect, was named the International League batter of the week Monday, the second time this season the league has honored him. Polanco, 22, went 13 for 22 with four doubles, a triple and a home run last week. He was hitting .389 this season with a .453 on-base percentage after Sunday.
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