PORT ST. LUCIE – J.D. Davis started third base last season, but the Mets prematurely abandoned the plan due to a combination of factors.
Among them, Davis was important because he seemed overwhelmed at this position. The left field became his new home, and he hardly survived, so that the Mets could keep a strong right-hander in the lineup.
Davis, who had arrived in an unannounced business with Houston before last season, appeared in 140 games and scored an OPS of 0.895, while proving to be an important piece of the clubhouse fabric.
Now that spring training is underway, the Mets Davis give another shot to the third base, at least part-time. This is a flexibility you may need given the fragility of your infield.
According to infield trainer Gary DiSarcina, Davis is planning to train in third place 50 percent of the time this spring – although his season in the Grapefruit League, which starts on Saturday, may be different.
DiSarcina traveled to Sacramento, California this off-season to work with Davis and teach a new approach. Instead of crouching as he was in third place before, Davis was asked to stand up.
"Every coach told me to try to stay low on the ground, so we basically switched to a tennis player who was at the receiving end," Davis said Tuesday. "I'm a little more upright and it helped me jump a little before the ball hit the home plate, and this way my feet were more on the floor and that helped me in my response time reading baseball and reading hard hops, and it worked perfectly for me, at least for this situation. "
Jeff McNeil is the main Mets third baseman, but he's also a top option to finish second when Robinson Cano needs a day off. Last season, Cano had three stints on the injured list and appeared in just 107 games. Jed Lowrie, another experienced infielder, missed almost the entire last season and physically came to the camp as a big question mark.
Davis remains someone who could receive significant action on the third basis.
"He needs replay in a game and he will fail," said DiSarcina. “In his first few spring games, he could make two or three mistakes trying something new, trying to incorporate a new technique into his game, and he will have some difficult spots, and it is up to us as an organization to do that deal with it. I just don't want him to go back to his old habits of getting too low. "
DiSarcina is also working to improve Davis & # 39; throwing. Last season, Davis showed a problem on third basis that resulted in inaccurate throws.
"He would throw quickly and try to show everyone how good he had an arm. … I've been so proud of him since Sacramento worked on his footwork and ability to get under control instead of constantly trying to escape and trying to throw her as hard as possible, "said DiSarcina.
“Sixty percent is good enough for him. It will keep its arm in a better slot, its feet will move, it will follow its throw and head for its target. Instead of putting up balls, running with them and throwing them as hard as possible and losing accuracy. We try to clean it up and he worked a lot himself. "
Davis’s play time in the left field largely depends on the status of Yoenis Cespedes. The seasoned outfielder took part in team workouts after missing the last 1½ seasons in which he had operated on both heels and had several ankle fractures that he contracted while encountering a wild boar at his ranch. However, there is currently no guarantee that Cespedes is ready to start the season.
"It's the same situation as last year that I would fit in and everything, but it's good to have so much depth in the team," said Davis. "If anything goes south or Cespedes comes back or whatever, I think I'm back to what helps the team. I can't control a lot."