Indians give Davis a tryout
Jason Davis is the most surprised person in the Cleveland Indians’ training camp.
He doesn’t have a name on his jersey or even a contract, but the 30-year-old right-hander wore a big smile and was almost in awe as he jogged out to the minor-league fields Wednesday.
“I can’t believe I’m here wearing this,” Davis said as he tugged the Indians logo on a faded minor-league uniform. “I’m like a little kid again. I’m so happy.”
Davis hasn’t pitched in two years. He called the Indians and asked for a tryout. There’s no guarantee he will wear that old uniform for more than a few days.
“All I asked was a chance and here I am,” Davis said. “I’m going to throw a few bullpen sessions and we’ll see what happens. I can still throw hard and I think I’m in a good place mentally. Looking back, I was really a mess the last few years I pitched.”
Eight years ago, Davis was Cleveland’s No. 2 starter behind CC Sabathia as a raw rookie with a 99 mph fastball. He went 8-11 in 27 starts at age 23, including a complete-game win over Detroit in which he gave up one run and no walks.
Moved to the bullpen in 2005 and traded to Seattle in 2007, Davis’ career faded as he had difficulty throwing strikes. He last pitched in the majors for Pittsburgh in 2008, and was 0-8 with a 6.06 ERA at Triple-A Indianapolis in 2009.
“Jason has always been very professional,” said Ross Atkins, the Indians’ vice president of player development. “He showed flashes of being a big-league pitcher. We thought we would take a look and let him go through the process.”
Davis did not play in 2010. He believes the mental break has helped him forget bad habits and that he can once again pitch effectively.
“The harder I tried to prove myself, the more bad habits I picked up,” Davis said. “Last year, the only thing I had to do with baseball was coaching first base for my 7-year-old daughter’s softball team. No pressure, just fun.”
Davis said he intends to have fun in his tryout and just air it out.
“There’s no promises,” Davis said. “I’m just going to throw. I’ve been here only a couple days and I’ve found out how much I missed this game.”
Atkins isn’t sure if there is room for Davis in the Indians’ farm system. Cleveland is loaded with pitching prospects, but Atkins said an experienced right-hander with good velocity is always welcome — as long as he throws strikes.
Davis didn’t do that in one inning of work in a minor-league game against Cincinnati Reds prospects. He walked the first man he faced, and hit the second in the shoulder with a fastball.