Pirates pitcher Rookie Davis relishing return to Cincinnati to face Reds
When Rookie Davis underwent hip surgery in October 2017, he knew it would be a long road to recovery and that there was no guarantee he would pitch in the major leagues again.
When the Pirates signed Davis to a minor-league contract during spring training and assigned him to Triple-A Indianapolis, the 6-foot-5, 255-pound right-hander had no shortage of incentive.
“Obviously, coming back from the injury I came back from, it’s tough,” Davis said of the surgery to repair a torn labrum and bone spurs. “You rely on hips for a lot, especially that push leg. Ever since I had surgery, there’s questions in the back of your mind: Am I going to be able to come back from that? I spoke to a lot of people who have been around those injuries, and it’s hard to do. That was the fuel to the fire for me, not just to make it back here but to make an impact here.”
Now, Davis has even more motivation.
Davis is relishing the prospect of facing his former team when the Pirates visit the Cincinnati Reds, starting with a doubleheader Monday at Great American Ballpark.
Two years ago, Davis was ranked the No. 19 prospect in the Reds’ organization by MLB Pipeline and earned a spot on their Opening Day roster. He was 1-3, 8.63 ERA in seven games (six starts) in 2017, before being shut down because of his hip.
“It’s going to be special,” Davis said. “I’ve said it before: They made a business decision. I can’t fault them for that. But, just how I was brought up, a certain part of me is going to enjoy being able to go back there (behind) the team that gave me my first opportunity and pitch against those guys. I’m looking forward to it. Anyone who’s in my position who tells you that they don’t, they’re lying.
“I’m not going to add any pressure to myself, not going to add anything more to it than it already is, but it’s going to be fun to compete against those guys. I know a lot of them very well. Obviously, being back in Cincinnati, where I have some good memories, it’s going to be very fun.”
Despite going 1-3 with a 5.35 ERA in seven starts at Indianapolis this season, the Pirates recalled Davis for bullpen duty when Chris Stratton was injured on Friday. Given that Davis was throwing nearly 100 pitches as a starter, he could be projected to pitch in long relief for the Pirates.
Davis made his return to the majors on Saturday night in a 7-2 loss to the Los Angeles Dodgers at PNC Park, allowing one run on three hits, with two strikeouts and two walks over three innings in relief of Joe Musgrove.
“It’s just one outing, but it was a good first one,” Davis said. “You want to win, but to be able to pick up the bullpen and go three (innings) was big because if I’m able to do that in whatever my role is here, I want to excel at it.”
That Davis will be facing his old team – and teammates – against the Reds is a challenge for which he can’t wait. And he’s not even attempting to downplay its importance.
“I know they’ve had some turnover there in the coaching staff and the front office, so their philosophy may have changed,” Davis said of the Reds, “but being able to stand there 60 feet away and see a familiar face and being able to challenge those guys is something I’m going to enjoy.”
Kevin Gorman is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Kevin by email at [email protected] or via Twitter .