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J.D. Davis still has no assurances that he'll be Mets' everyday third baseman 

New York Mets player J.D. Davis during a

New York Mets player J.D. Davis during a spring training workout Wednesday, Feb. 24, 2021, in Port St. Lucie, FL. Credit: Newsday/Alejandra Villa Loarca

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. — J.D. Davis heard the rumors, but he didn’t care much about them.

All offseason, the Mets were linked to various star third basemen and would-be trade acquisitions — Kris Bryant, Nolan Arenado, Matt Chapman, Eugenio Suarez — though nothing ever appeared close to happening. At the same time, in a series of opportunities to offer public votes of confidence to the incumbent, Mets decision-makers mostly demurred.

Now Davis and the Mets have arrived at spring training. He is still atop the depth chart, probably. The Mets keep not saying for certain. But Davis, at least, is happy to be here.

"I have full confidence in my capabilities," he said Wednesday. "I'm a big-leaguer. I'm a major-leaguer, and I'm going to stand behind that. And I love these guys. I love this organization. I love being around these guys, I connect with these guys. So am I happy to be a Met coming in here? Absolutely.

"I’ve been in trade talks since, I don’t know, 2015, 2016, so the trade talks with me — it’s a business and I know in the long run there’s really nothing I can do about it."

The questions about Davis are regarding his defense. Few doubt his ability to hit. Including the shortened 2020 season, when he took a step back but was still above-average, Davis has compiled a .288/.370/.483 slash line in two years with the Mets.

At third base, Davis continues to work with infield coach Gary DiSarcina on "pretty much the whole generalization of me trying to be a better defender," Davis said.

Luis Rojas said there has been improvement in that area — as well as with his physique — relative to a year ago. But that wasn’t enough for the manager to say outright that Davis will be the starter.

"He might be the guy that gets the most playing time there," Rojas said. "We still want to see camp going and competition going. We have a lot of guys that can play around in the infield."

That is a continuation of an offseason trend, when the Mets, seemingly looking for an upgrade, wouldn’t commit to Davis.

It began Dec. 17, when team president Sandy Alderson, asked about the Mets’ third-base situation, hedged. He characterized it as "probably a little bit up in the air" and noted that the Mets would look for "targets of opportunity."

On Feb. 12, acting general manager Zack Scott stopped short of calling Davis the starter, saying the Mets were comfortable with him "playing an important role on our club."

It wasn’t until Monday when Scott — who noted that the Mets were done with major-league moves — said he would be OK with Davis as the everyday third baseman, when asked.

"I'd be comfortable with that, yeah," he said.

Throughout, Davis never sought reassurance from the front office. Still, now, with another season beginning, he just assumed he would be playing more third base than leftfield — where Dominic Smith is expected to get the bulk of playing time — even if they never outright told him that.

"I never reached out for them, and they never reached out to me," Davis said, no hint of irritation in his voice. "It’s just me. I don’t need that comfort or that verbal confirmation. Luis can back me up on this that I just go about my business."

Planning to play third, however, did help his offseason. He focused on lateral agility, unlike the previous winter, when he planned to play outfield and prepared by bulking up.

"It's huge when you go into a spring training," he said, "where you know what position you're going to play."

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