Just five years ago, Ike Davis was a rising star with the New York Mets, slugging his way to 32 home runs and 90 runs batted in. He was just 25 and seemingly destined for a long and celebrated career as one of the faces of the organization. As the now 30-year-old takes the field in Oklahoma City, those days must seem like a lifetime ago.
In 2008, the Mets selected Davis in the first round of the MLB Draft. The Arizona State product, who hit .385 with 16 homers for the Sun Devils, had “decade-plus starting first baseman” written all over him. Davis’ pitching ability — he struck out 30 batters in 24 innings as ASU’s closer — was an afterthought. These days, however, it’s all that’s keeping him in the game.
Davis was never able to match the success he had with the Mets in the 2012 season. Although he was able to play through it in his big year, his left leg never truly recovered from a 2011 injury sustained in a collision with teammate David Wright. Then came the valley fever, a fungal disease that lingered for years, making Davis constantly feel run-down. With a lack of energy and an injured leg, he bounced around from team to team, making stops with the Pittsburgh Pirates, Oakland Athletics and New York Yankees. Four years and just 23 home runs later, Davis appeared on his way out of baseball.
This spring, Davis reported to Oklahoma City to attempt a comeback with the Dodgers’ AAA squad. While willing to give him a chance, the organization had something new in mind: put the bat away and head over to the mound to learn how to pitch again. The early results have been encouraging, to say the least. In 2.2 innings, Davis has recorded five strikeouts and given up just one hit. The three appearances were his first on the mound for a pro team since 2015, when the Oakland Athletics subbed him in to two games.
While it’s far too early to know if Davis can ever be a consistent major league pitcher, the Dodgers are pleased thus far.
“He had a lot of success in his amateur career off the mound, and it had gotten to a point where he wanted to dust off the cobwebs and see what it looks like,” Andrew Friedman, the Dodgers’ president of baseball operations, told the Los Angeles Times.
“He wanted to do it, to get a chance to play more, and play longer,” Davis’ Oklahoma City Dodgers catcher Kyle Farmer added. “He has a live fastball, really good changeup, and he’s working on his slider right now.”
— Bobby DeMuro (@BobbyDeMuro) August 15, 2017
No matter how far Davis’ new venture takes him, we know one thing: he’s no quitter.