Ike Davis was received with pleasure and hospitality into the Mets' shaky 2010 venture Monday. Summoned from the team's Buffalo farm club at noon, flown to Queens and immediately installed as the latest answer to the two-year-old "Who's on first?" gag for last night's 6-1 victory over the Chicago Cubs, Davis slapped a broken-bat single to rightfield in his first big-league at-bat, what seemed a fulfillment of the prophesy of his .480 spring training average.
Now he faces robust expectations to move the needle on the Mets' lagging offense, turn their thin-gruel attack into red meat. Plus, the next time the Mets play a 20-inning game, his experience as a crack pitcher - starter and finisher - during his Arizona State days could come in handy.
He began his deliverance of the Mets by going 2-for-4 - both singles - and driving in a run during their five-run seventh inning. Having parachuted into the much-scrutinized doings at first base, where recent employees there (Nick Evans, Daniel Murphy, Mike Jacobs) have not exactly buttressed the wisdom of Mets decision-makers, Davis actually was recognized by baggage handlers when he arrived at LaGuardia Airport Monday afternoon and was solicited for his autograph.
Last night, 27,940 Mets devotees greeted him with loud ovations - "That was pretty cool," he said. "The crowd actually knowing who I was and cheering" - and manager Jerry Manuel even gushed over Davis' long sixth-inning flyout when the game was tied 1-1. "A young man, with the game on the line, thinking, 'Let me take a shot,' that's a pretty good sign right there," Manuel said.
He arrived at the ballpark - "Which park?" he asked - at 9:15 a.m. in Buffalo, penciled into the Triple-A club's lineup in the cleanup spot even as he was getting text messages of congratulations, even as he dressed for the 1 p.m. Bisons game. "It was weird," he said, at least until he got the official Mets call for reinforcements.
He strolled into the dugout of the day's second park, Citi Field, at 4:45 - "S'up, guys?" he asked - wearing the No. 29 that, only a day before, had been the property of relief pitcher Tobi Stoner, who spent all of 21/3 innings as a Met, just long enough to be Sunday's losing pitcher in St. Louis.
Davis took infield and batting practice, was hustled into a five-minute interview session ("I'm pretty excited," he said), assigned an empty locker next to the team's laundry room and given yet another uniform, because every Met and Cub donned No. 42 in honor of Jackie Robinson last night.
The son of former relief pitcher Ron Davis - whose career included one All-Star season and a stretch with the Yankees - he recalled first being in a big-league clubhouse when he was "maybe 12, Old-Timers' Day with my dad. Got to meet Jeter and Scott Brosius."
This time, he got his photo taken to be displayed on the giant video board during his at-bats, when the crowd cheered, on a day bigger than life.