Sources: Mets to promote Davis
ST. LOUIS -- The New York Mets plan for their first baseman of the future to be the man of the present, too.
Mets officials have resolved to promote heralded prospect Ike Davis to Citi Field this week, team sources told ESPNNewYork.com.
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The Mets' 20-inning victory against the St. Louis Cardinals on Saturday initiated a series of moves that should lead to Davis' promotion within days.
First baseman Mike Jacobs was designated for assignment so the Mets could promote fresh-armed right-hander Tobi Stoner from Triple-A Buffalo for Sunday night's ESPN-televised game. The Mets are now carrying 13 pitchers, but plan to reduce an arm and promote a position player once the bullpen is rested.
Davis, 23, has a seven-game hitting streak with Buffalo and is hitting .364 with two homers and four RBIs in 33 at-bats. A first-round pick (18th overall) out of Arizona State in 2008, Davis' father Ron pitched 11 seasons in the majors, including with the Yankees from 1978-81.
As with third baseman David Wright's promotion after 114 at-bats in Triple-A in 2004, the timing of Davis' promotion is open for debate. Team insiders say there are particular reservations about whether Davis is ready, but Mets first basemen are hitting a combined .143 with one homer and three RBIs through 11 games and there's pressure on the organization to win now. Mets pitchers are hitting .238 with two RBIs.
"When it's time for him to come up, he just needs to remember to come in and do what he's done his whole career," Wright said, reflecting on the pressure a hyped prospect faces in New York. "I know there are expectations. I know there is going to be a lot of pressure. But he seems like he's a tremendous player, a great guy, and will do well at this level."
A slick fielder, Davis would be the first lefty-throwing staple at first base for the Mets since John Olerud in 1999.
"We saw a lot of mistakes early in spring training just from getting back into baseball in games," Mets infield/third base coach Chip Hale said. "You look at his numbers over his career -- and I've talked to his college coach -- he's got good hands, good feet. So you know he's going to be a good fielder. You just need to get used to the speed of the game. Major league hitters hit the ball a little bit harder. That's just the way it goes. As he got used to it, he got more comfortable. He's everything you want in a first baseman -- left-handed, real wide wingspan, long legs. He can do a lot of things. He makes all the other infielders comfortable throwing to him."
The Mets hoped a platoon of Fernando Tatis and Jacobs at first base could provide adequate coverage at the position until Daniel Murphy (sprained knee ligament) returns from the disabled list. However, Murphy is still a few weeks from his expected return and is not yet cleared to swing at pitches. And the production has not been there from the Jacobs-Tatis combination.
Jacobs, who had four homers in his first four games in the majors as a Met before being traded to the Florida Marlins for Carlos Delgado on Nov. 24, 2005, hit .208 with one homer and two RBIs in 24 at-bats to open this season.
"We just felt that we didn't quite see what we wanted to see in that brief opportunity he was given. But I am a Jacobs fan," said manager Jerry Manuel, who had lobbied for Jacobs to remain at the major league level in '05 while bench coach, when team officials wanted to demote the first baseman the day of his debut. "It's a tough, tough deal. It's a tough deal when you send a guy down that you liked for a longtime personally."
Said Jacobs: "I obviously didn't see it coming."
The Mets could have optioned Jacobs to Buffalo immediately, but designated him for assignment instead. That way, there would be no chance of a scene if Jacobs decided not to report after reflecting on the situation. Jacobs indicated he would go to Mets' top minor league affiliate if playing time existed -- which should be the case once Davis is promoted.
"I'm not going to go down there and sit on the bench, I'll tell you that," Jacobs said. "That's for sure. I'm definitely not going to waste my time doing that."
How Davis performs could have interesting ramifications for Murphy. Poised to be the Opening Day first baseman, Murphy suffered a sprained medial collateral ligament in his right knee during a rundown the final week of spring training. If Davis takes off, a team source speculated that Murphy could even find himself at Buffalo. There, Murphy could primarily play first base, but also be exposed to second base and the outfield to improve his versatility for an eventual utility role.
That's premature, though, since Davis has yet to see a major league pitch. Manuel wouldn't even acknowledge the organization has firmly resolved to promote Davis, although multiple members of the organization said that is the intention.
Asked if Davis was the obvious candidate for a promotion, Manuel said: "He is an exciting young talent. We've witnessed some young talents do well so far here at the major league level. He's exciting."
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