It was getaway day last Thursday in St. Louis. And as is typical, most of the Mets scrambled to gather their belongings, preparing for the next stop on the road trip. Attendants loaded down carts filled with the team's equipment. Players readied their carry-on bags.
Ike Davis had his mind on other matters.
Little more than 20 minutes after the conclusion of a hitless afternoon against the Cardinals, Davis disappeared down a corridor beneath Busch Stadium, searching for the answer that might save his batting average from plummeting below .150.
He later re-emerged carrying a baseball bat, beads of sweat dotting his forehead, still breathing heavily from the extra swings he took in the cage.
Yet for all that work, Davis finds himself in nearly the same spot he reached one year ago. The 26-year-old is on the brink of a demotion to the minor leagues.
"It has nothing to do with the preparation and the work," said Mets captain David Wright, who stood by Davis through similar misfortune last season, when the first baseman roared back in the second half after narrowly escaping a demotion.
Davis finished with 32 homers and 90 RBIs, rewarding the Mets for their faith and buying himself some slack when he again stumbled out of the blocks this season. Even that leeway appears nearly exhausted, though.
In the last week, debate within the organization has heated up regarding Davis' fate. In Chicago last weekend, Sandy Alderson assured the first baseman that he would be given the opportunity to pull himself out of his massive slump. But the general manager avoided using concrete language about just how much time Davis might have.
In his last 38 at-bats, Davis has collected one hit. In his last 25 chances with runners in scoring position, he has no hits. Davis has watched his on-base plus slugging percentage dip to an unfathomable .481, a figure much closer to the .334 posted by National League pitchers than the .757 posted by fellow first basemen.
Of the 169 qualifying batters in baseball, Davis' .147 average ranks dead last.
"It's one of those stretches . . . ," Wright said. "You wish that on nobody."
Davis is expected to remain with the Mets Friday for the start of a three-game series against the Braves. But a team source called Davis' future a fluid situation, one that seemingly offers no guarantees for the weekend, or for next week's Subway Series against the Yankees.
"I'd probably be in Triple-A already if my teammates didn't have confidence and want me to be here," Davis said. "They're a huge part of why I come in every day with a positive attitude and I try to work and help them."
In Davis, his teammates see a sympathetic figure.
"It would be very easy to pull your hair out, mope around and hang your head, and he's done the opposite," Wright said. "He's rooted on his teammates. He's doing everything he can to help this team. So it's tough to watch, especially with how hard I know the rest of the guys are rooting for him to break out of this."
On Wednesday, Matt Harvey made a point of saying it's unfair for "everyone to be bashing" Davis, especially because "he's working his [butt] off."
"We're all behind him," Harvey said. "No matter what, we're behind Ike. He's our teammate. We all love him and we're behind him every step of the way."
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