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Mets trade Ike Davis to Pittsburgh Pirates

Ike Davis strikes out in the eighth inning

Ike Davis strikes out in the eighth inning against the Arizona Diamondbacks on May 4, 2012. Credit: Jim McIsaac

The Mets relieved some pressure on their unsettled crowding at first base Friday night by trading Ike Davis to the Pittsburgh Pirates for righthanded pitcher Zack Thornton and a player to be named.

"Obviously, it's a little weird," said Davis, who was informed of the deal shortly before Friday night's game against the Atlanta Braves. "I've been with the Mets organization a long time and made some really good friendships and stuff like that. That's the toughest part, I think. I really had a blast in New York."

Wheels for the deal clearly were turning during the day as the Mets reactivated outfielder Chris Young, just recovered from a quadriceps injury, from the disabled list but made no announcement about a roster move to make room for Young.

In fact, the starting lineup, normally made public some four hours before game time, was not released until a half-hour before the first pitch.

"Just about two hours ago, I started thinking about it because, like, why isn't the lineup out?" Davis said. "Someone had to go down today or get traded. We knew something was going to happen. I didn't know if I was going to get traded today or whenever, but something had to happen today."

"This has gone on for some period of time, as everyone knows," Mets general manager Sandy Alderson said. "It's a situation that we needed to resolve and we're happy with the return. We're happy with the trade. We're happy for Ike in the sense that he'll get another opportunity."

Alderson said the unnamed player would remain unnamed for the time being "for a reason," but that the Mets are happy to have both Thornton and that player. He said Thornton was "somebody we considered taking with the Rule 5 draft in the wintertime. He is going to give us more depth. He's pitched very well at the minor league level. He's not on the roster, so it gives us some flexibility."

The Mets had hoped to get a better reading on whether Davis or Duda would win the first-base job during spring training, Alderson said, but injuries to both delayed the decision. Then, "we saw the three games in Anaheim" last week "as an opportunity, perhaps, to see both on the field at the same time. Unfortunately we saw two lefthanders.

"Once that DH opportunity was behind us, and looking at the roster and the next for some more flexibility, in terms of what we had on the bench and what they could do, we decided it was time for us to make a decision.

"I wouldn't say we ran out of patience [with Davis]. At some point, you have to make a choice."

Davis, 27, in his fifth major-league season, played 454 games for the Mets and started almost 90 percent of them, but earlier this season lost his job to Lucas Duda.

"New York is a tough place to play," Davis said. "If you don't do well, they don't like it. We don't like playing bad, either, so . . . I never let that stuff get to me. It's more not playing well. That's what I don't like. But hopefully, that's behind me and I feel a lot better in the box this year, so we'll see what I can do with a lot of playing time."

A .241 lifetime hitter with 68 home runs and 224 RBIs, Davis slumped to .205, nine homers and 33 RBIs last season. The trade leaves Josh Satin as Duda's backup.

"I've made my childhood dreams come true playing in the big leagues here," Davis said. "But you know, it's just a steppingstone and it happens to a lot of people, getting traded. And now I go to my team in Pittsburgh."

In a way, Davis conceded that he saw it coming.

"You can't play a major-league season with three first basemen," he said. "One of us had to go, and it looked like it was going to be me for almost eight months now."

To start his career in New York, he said, was "an eye-opening to the world. I grew up in Scottsdale, so living in Manhattan, it's just a crazy, crazy difference. It was fun, and I wouldn't change it for the world. I had a great time here. I didn't play as well as I should've. Now I get a fresh start and hopefully, I can get back to where I used to be."

Just before game time, Davis said: "I got to hug most of the guys. I'll miss them the most. You know the baseball season. It's 12 hours a day every day for eight months. You get some special bonds in there."

Thornton, 25, is a minor-league pitcher currently in Triple-A Indianapolis. He has a career 3.03 ERA in 153 games (one start) in the minors. He has 285 strikeouts and 63 walks in 2521/3 innings pitched for a career 4.52 strikeout/walk ratio.

Thornton will report to Triple-A Las Vegas. He is 2-0 with a 1.23 ERA, eight strikeouts and one walk in four games this season. He went 7-3 with five saves, a 2.63 ERA and 90 strikeouts in 42 games at three different levels in the Pirates organization in 2013. He posted a 3.07 ERA and one save in 11 appearances in the Arizona Fall League.

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