Mets’ JD Davis comes into the groove as a part-time player

WASHINGTON — JD Davis is almost certain he’ll be included in the lineup every time the Mets face a left-handed starting pitcher. On days when the team hits a right turn, he was happy with the communication from the manager’s office.

The latest example came on Wednesday when bench coach Glenn Sherlock Davis announced around 3 p.m. that he would not be in the starting lineup against Nationals right-wing Aaron Sanchez that night. The information allowed Davis to jump into a practice session and plan his pre-game routine accordingly.

“You can come in here and be productive where there was a bit of a streak in the season last year where we had the lineup about an hour before game time,” Davis said. “And then everyone kind of runs around with their heads cut off… I think everyone just assumes they’re going to be in the lineup by the game and, ‘OK, now I can relax?’ It just helps productivity if you know it in advance.”

Davis (who is scheduled to begin the series finale Thursday) is learning to thrive in a part-time role, having played almost regularly during his first three seasons with the Mets when healthy. He entered Wednesday with a .238/.377/.357 slash with a homer and four RBIs in 53 plate appearances, but those numbers tell an incomplete story. Davis also had a 70 percent hard hit ball rate, which was among the highest in MLB, according to Fangraphs. Based on that rate, Davis’ expected batting average was .351 and expected slugging percentage was .677.

JD Davis scores on a wild pitch during a recent game against the Phillies.
JD Davis scores on a wild pitch during a recent game against the Phillies.
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Those numbers tell manager Buck Showalter that Davis wasn’t the happiest player alive.

Davis’ path to more playing time was paved last week when Robinson Cano was drafted and then released. Davis and Dominic Smith must share the DH spot (or in some cases, Smith plays first base and moves Pete Alonso to DH).

“It’s a bit of a Dodger-like feel where Max Muncy can move anywhere, [Cody] Bellinger can play first and right and kinda move everyone to keep everyone fresh,” Davis said.

Davis’ most notable contribution this season was the brace he delivered in Philadelphia last Thursday, which continued a ninth-inning rally. Brandon Nimmo followed with a two-run single and Starling Marte’s RBI double put the Mets ahead with their seventh run in the inning. The Mets won.

“It was a big confidence boost for me,” Davis said. “I’m just getting through it [Corey] gag. I know the situation and everything, 7-1, he probably didn’t know he was going to serve.

“He probably didn’t have his best stuff, but just going in there and spinning a fastball, something I’ve been working on and something I’ve tried to keep short and actually do it in a game, it was a A big moment for me and a big moment for the team to pass the baton and take a win from this game.

Davis spent much of last season on the injured list with a torn ligament in his hand. When he returned after 2 1/2 months on the injured list, there were still complaints hampering his playing time. As spring training began that season, Davis felt it was highly likely that he would be traded due to his potentially limited role. So far he’s happy to be able to stay.

“How can I not?” said Davis. “I’m on a first-place team. We are loaded into this team and it is a good problem to have. Mets’ JD Davis comes into the groove as a part-time player


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