Pirates notebook: Davis escapes from N.Y. into comfort zone

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NEW YORK -- Ike Davis took a seat Monday morning against the back wall of the visiting dugout at Citi Field, a new vantage point for him since being traded to the Pirates from the New York Mets last month.

Davis, batting cleanup and hitting more than .300 for the Pirates, had reporters in stitches when he revealed the best part of no longer working in New York.

"Maybe going to get coffee and I don't get hitting tips," said Davis. "Maybe that's the best thing. I don't know if that's a good or bad thing. But I don't have to think about my stance at nine in the morning."

All kidding aside, his journey from New York to Pittsburgh -- two cities worlds apart in regards to pressure and expectations -- has brought Davis some comfort. He entered the game Monday batting .303 with a .395 on-base percentage, a .424 slugging percentage and a .819 on-base plus slugging.

"We encouraged him coming in [the sense that] we didn't need a guy to be a power hitter," said manager Clint Hurdle. "It's not what we're looking for -- a power hitter. We're looking for a good hitter who has some power. I think that helped his mindset coming in."

Davis said he discussed a small tweak to his swing with hitting coach Jeff Branson and believes it helped.

"We worked on one thing. My front leg, not bending as much in my swing," said Davis. "I brought that up to him. Then he finally said, 'OK we'll work on it.' It's been a little bit of the reason I'm hitting better now."

Davis was constantly fighting for playing time at first base with the Mets but does not have that problem with the Pirates.

"It's rhythm, it's rhyme. He's knowing he's getting four clean at-bats a game, five at-bats a game, I think [that] helps as well," said Hurdle. "He's doing the things we've asked. He's been a nice addition to our lineup. Ability to move him to four, drop [Pedro Alvarez] down to six makes our lineup play better right now."

He wasn't sure what to expect from his former fans and anticipated some boos.

"I'm assuming it's going to be a lot of boos. Who knows? It's going to be fun. I'm excited to play."

But it wasn't boos. He was greeted warmly in his first at-bat, a walk.

Mazzaro out, Cumpton in

The Pirates designated reliever Vin Mazzaro for assignment Monday to make room for starter Brandon Cumpton.

They did that once before this season with Mazzaro, who then cleared waivers and was outrighted to Indianapolis in part because of his $950,000 salary.

It could happen again this time or he could elect free agency if he clears waivers. Mazzaro made five appearances this season, giving up eight hits, four earned runs, and two home runs in 101/3 innings. He struck out seven and walked five.

Watson makes a hit

Tony Watson pitched a scoreless eighth, then stayed in the game to collect his first major league hit.

Hurdle said he was not considering Watson as a pitcher in the ninth, but was simply out of pinch-hitters having used Travis Snider, Gaby Sanchez, Jose Tabata and Clint Barmes already.

That left backup catcher Chris Stewart, a move Hurdle wasn't willing to risk.

"You hit Stewart and something would happen to [Russell Martin] in the ninth. Made no sense. Wanted him to go up and cover that at-bat. We thought he might swing a little earlier than that; there's a guy in scoring position. He showed some patience. Got a pitch he liked."

Jenn Menendez: jmenendez@post-gazette.com and Twitter @JennMenendez.

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