Pirates first baseman Davis awaits second chance at the plate

The Pirates' Ike Davis bats against the Reds on April 24, 2014 at PNC Park. He's hitting.185 since joining the team.
The Pirates' Ike Davis bats against the Reds on April 24, 2014 at PNC Park. He's hitting.185 since joining the team.
Photo by Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review
Rob Biertempfel
| Wednesday, April 30, 2014, 10:12 p.m.

BALTIMORE — Like the rest of his new teammates, Pirates first baseman Ike Davis is struggling at the plate.

Davis hit a grand slam in his third game after being traded to the Pirates. In nine games with them, he is batting .185 (5 for 27) with a .624 on-base plus slugging percentage.

Before the New York Mets dealt him, Davis batted .208 with one homer and a .742 OPS over 12 games.

When they chose Davis with the 18th overall pick in the 2008 draft, the Mets expected him to someday be an impact bat in their lineup. The Pirates had the same hope when they swapped a pair of minor leaguers for Davis on April 18.

“The season is so long. Hitters can be hot and cold,” Davis said. “I don't think one guy can change a whole team. But, that said, I hope I do contribute. I'm going to work my butt off and, hopefully, make a difference here.”

The Pirates have not won back-to-back games since April 6 and April 8. Since then, they have lost 14 of 19. In that span, they've batted .182 and are averaging 2.16 runs.

“You're going to have (slumps) at some point in the year,” Davis said. “Better now than later in the season, when we're making a run at (a playoff bid). It doesn't show up in the stats, but there have been a lot of hard-hit balls that are just not falling. That will turn. We'll start getting our cheap hits and our hard-hit balls to fall, and we'll start scoring more runs.”

Monday was an off day for the team, but manager Clint Hurdle spent time scribbling out potential lineups. He liked one that has Davis in the No. 2 spot, so Hurdle called general manager Neal Huntington and Dan Fox, the team's numbers cruncher, for their input.

“This is one of the fun parts of managing because there's no exact science,” Hurdle said. “But I also told the players I didn't feel proper flipping a bunch of players at once.”

Davis has a career .334 on-base percentage but never has batted second. Hurdle asked Davis what he thought about the change.

“He said, ‘I've always felt like I could hit second,'” Hurdle said. “I think he wanted to say, ‘Nobody was ever crazy enough to do it.' So, we're going to roll with it.”

On Tuesday, Jose Tabata was in the leadoff spot with Davis in the No. 2 hole. Hurdle didn't get to test his changes, though, as the game against the Baltimore Orioles was rained out.

The game Wednesday also was washed out, so the Pirates and Orioles will play a doubleheader at 4:05 p.m. Thursday. The lineup for Game 1 will have Davis in the No. 2 spot.

“I get on base a lot, and the two hole is usually about getting on base for Cutch and the four hole hitter,” Davis said. “I don't think it's that big of a deal, but I am excited. It means I get to come up more and, hopefully, I'll score a lot of runs.”

Notes: Wandy Rodriguez (right knee inflammation) will make a rehab start Thursday with Double-A Altoona. The left-hander will start the first game of a doubleheader at 11 a.m. at Erie. ... The last time the Pirates played a doubleheader on the road was July 2, 2011, at Washington. They haven't played a road twinbill in interleague play since June 10, 2004 against the Texas Rangers.

Rob Biertempfel is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at rbiertempfel@tribweb.com or via Twitter @BiertempfelTrib.

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