CHICAGO - Ike Davis considered the question, one that will grow louder if his batting average continues to plummet. Is it possible that a stint in the minor leagues could do him some good?
"I don't know," the first baseman said Saturday after going 0-for-4 in the Mets' 8-2 loss to the Cubs. "I've never done it."
But at some point, that could change, especially if his struggles stretch into the summer. General manager Sandy Alderson attempted to ease the pressure on Davis Saturday, refuting a published report that Davis and his .156 average could be sent to Triple-A Las Vegas if he shows no improvement this weekend.
"Issues that we're facing with Ike are issues that we've faced before," Alderson said, referring to the slump that nearly got Davis demoted last season. "Obviously, we're not just sitting around watching this without trying to help him and figure out what's in his best interest. But there's no ultimatum, there's no deadline, there's no anything that we've established."
Alderson even took the extra step of approaching Davis, reassuring the first baseman that a demotion is not imminent.
"It's not going to be a three-game tryout," Davis said. "I'm probably going to have a month or whatever to figure it out. And then they've got to do what they've got to do. But it's not a day-to-day thing. So as long as I start having good at-bats and start performing better, it won't happen."
But even without a hard deadline, the implication from the Mets is clear. A demotion is possible if Davis continues to be a drain on his team's struggling offense.
The Mets stranded seven runners and were 0-for-5 with runners in scoring position Saturday.
Once the Cubs chased righthander Jeremy Hefner -- who allowed four runs in four innings -- they stood little chance of mounting a comeback. Davis made a careless error at first base, then finished 0-for-4.
Davis batted with runners on first and third and one out in the first inning. At the very least, he hoped for a sacrifice fly, and he put himself in good position to do some damage by working the count to 3-and-1. But Scott Feldman threw a cutter that Davis just missed, and Daniel Murphy had to stay at third on Davis' fly to right.
Said Davis: "If I would have caught it a little sooner, I could have had a three-run homer instead of nothing."
The at-bat exemplified the frustration that has plagued Davis all season.
Mets manager Terry Collins resolved to keep Davis in the cleanup spot this week regardless of his struggles. He was pleased with the quality of Davis' at-bats, but there was no escaping reality.
"You know, when you don't get hits, it's pretty tough to say that he's had a successful week," Collins said. "But has he made strides? Yeah, I think he has. But certainly, we've got to get some hits in there."
Exactly what comes next for Davis remains unclear.
This past week, Collins left open the possibility of making Davis part of a straight platoon at first base, shielding him against all lefthanders. He also mentioned dropping Davis in the lineup. But in either case, the Mets seem content to allow Davis to work through his problems, sparing him the threat of the minors.
Said Davis: "As far as making me a better hitter, I don't think it's going to happen down there."
It's an opinion shared by some corners of the front office, with some questioning whether facing minor-league pitching would do Davis any good, according to a person familiar with the team's thinking.
Still, the possibility of a demotion remains if Davis continues to languish, even if it's not immediate.
"At some point, everything is on the table," Alderson said. "There's nothing on the table currently."