J.D. Davis ready to embrace new role in return to Mets

J.D. Davis is just happy to be back after over two months on the sideline.

It doesn’t matter that he wasn’t in Friday night’s starting lineup or that his role might be reduced. Davis is thrilled to be healthy and on the active roster after a sprained left hand kept him away since the start of May.

“When I get an opportunity to bang, I’ll bang,” Davis said over Zoom on Friday, before the Mets opened a three-game series in Pittsburgh. “Just play ball, be a good teammate.”

Manager Luis Rojas previously said Davis would be part of the rotation at third base, so it wasn’t too much of a surprise that Jonathan Villar got the first start after the All-Star break. Villar has played well for the Mets with so many key players missing time due to injuries in the first half of the season, and is a superior defensive player.

J.D. Davis
Corey Sipkin

Davis will play, though. The Mets need his bat, especially against left-handed pitching. And he did get hot at the end of his rehabilitation assignment with Triple-A Syracuse, going 8-for-14 with six extra-base hits. The Mets, second-to-last in baseball in runs per game with 3.76, can use all the help they can get at the plate. Davis was hitting well in a small sample size before getting hurt, with a slash line of .390/.479/.610.

“J.D. is gonna come in and be a part of the mix and his versatility will serve him well,” said Rojas, who expressed the possibility Davis could see time in the outfield and at first base. “Everyone here is an everyday player. Everyone here should be ready to play.”

Rojas said he hasn’t given Davis a plan for how he will be used. He simply told him to be prepared. Davis did his best to play down the notion he lost his starting spot while he was out. In his mind, he was never the everyday third baseman before suffering the hand injury, even if he was playing there most days. He doesn’t view splitting time as a demotion.

“It is what it is,” he said. “Your stats don’t really matter if you win games. … I’m always here for the team. The most important thing is to win ball games anyway I can. For the most part, the role that I can do, or I can control, is be a good teammate, and bring the energy, and continue to work at-bats and find a way to win games.”

It has been a frustrating 10 weeks for Davis, who last appeared in a game on May 1. He started a rehab assignment on May 18, but it lasted just four games because the discomfort in his hand wasn’t going away. He didn’t expect to miss so much time.

“Huge relief, I’m excited, I got butterflies now,” Davis said of his return. “It’s great to be back with the guys and just to contribute to this team that’s in first place, and we can make a real serious push here in the second half.”

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