Rookie Davis ready to compete for job in Pirates rotation
BRADENTON, Fla. — Rookie Davis was patient during the free-agent process, waiting for a chance to be a starting pitcher while working to get his body healthy for the first time in two seasons.
After signing with the Pittsburgh Pirates on Monday, Davis arrived at Pirate City on Thursday and prepared to battle Steven Brault, Nick Kingham and Jordan Lyles for the fifth spot in the starting rotation.
“I’m going to show up and compete every day, push the envelope and do whatever I can to help this team,” Davis said. “I’m a competitor. I like the challenges. Obviously, starting is something I’ve done my entire career. It’s something I want to continue to do. I’ll be given that opportunity but, other than that, my job is to come out and compete every day, compete pitch to pitch, and that’s all.”
The 6-foot-5, 255-pound right-hander was 1-3 with an 8.63 ERA with the Cincinnati Reds in 2017. He faced the Pirates twice that season, getting a no-decision after pitching four innings in a 6-2 victory on April 11 and earning the victory May 3 after striking out two in five scoreless innings and allowing four hits and three walks.
Initially diagnosed with groin strains, Davis said he experience a sharp pain in a late September start against St. Louis that “felt like an ice pick went in.” He was removed from the game in the third inning and ended up having hip surgery. Davis pitched only 26 1/3 innings across three levels of the minors last season while recovering, so he spent the offseason working on a “very unconventional” training regimen that focused on his hip flexibility and stability.
“All the workouts that I did directly impacted what I could do throwing a baseball, and that’s what I’m paid to do,” Davis said. “I’m not paid to go take my shirt off on a beach and take pictures. I’m paid to throw a baseball as efficiently as possible, so that’s what my workouts were geared towards.”
Davis said he is adapting analytics to his pitching method and has become accustomed to the unconventional, especially given the baseball-inspired nickname bestowed by his father.
“He wanted me to have a recognizable name,” Davis said, “and he gave me a recognizable name.”
Davis joked he’s worried about how it will sound when he’s 40.
“It’s starting to morph into ‘Rook,’ but there’s only so much you can do with it,” said Davis, who said his mom is the only one who calls him by his given name, William. “I think my girlfriend has said it once or twice, but when she gets mad, she likes to say my first and last name. My mom, it’s ‘William’ and I know that’s enough.
“Whatever y’all call me, I’ve been called a lot worse. I can promise you that.”
Kevin Gorman is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Kevin by email at [email protected] or via Twitter .