After spending 13 seasons in the major leagues, Rajai Davis admitted there were luxuries he took for granted when he had to start his 14th year in professional baseball with the Mets’ minor league organization.
“It is a grind,” Davis said. “It’s difficult if you think about it all the time. But if you focus on the end result and doing what you need to do every day to stay ready to help the big league team, then it’s not as difficult. That’s what I had to do and that’s what I focused on.”
The Mets signed Davis, a 14-year-veteran, to a minor-league contract in December, one season removed from playing 101 games with the Indians. He was re-called to the major-league team from Triple-A Syracuse before Tuesday’s contest against his former team, and he had an RBI double in the eighth inning after pinch-hitting in the seventh and remaining in leftfield Tuesday.
Davis, 38, was one of a handful of experienced players the Mets signed to minor-league contracts in what was a slow offseason for veteran players. He started the year in Triple-A and appeared in four games with the Mets in late May before returning to Syracuse.
The outfielder said living life in the minor leagues was made better for the experienced players by having each other there, although they each yearned for a return to the majors.
“It was easier to transition, especially in the beginning of the year,” Davis said. “The guys really bonded together. Of course there was a lot of complaining with big leaguers being accustomed to premium. You take for granted the little things that you get in the big leagues that are nowhere to be found (in the minors).”
Davis hit .287 with eight home runs, 28 RBIs, 47 runs scored and 20 stolen bases in 84 games in Syracuse. Last year, he was largely a situational player for the Indians, hitting .224 with 33 runs scored and 21 stolen bases with 196 at-bats over 101 games.
The outfielder also had a good look at one of the team’s most polarizing prospects, Tim Tebow. Although Tebow is out for the remainder of the season after suffering a deep cut on his left hand July 21, Davis was impressed by the work ethic and commitment the 31-year-old former Heisman Trophy winning quarterback possessed. Tebow hit .163 with four home runs and 98 strikeouts over 77 games this season.
“He works his butt off and that’s one thing that’s very impressive,” Davis said. “I mean, you’ll never know it unless you know him (but) he’s just always putting his work in. He’s trying to get better, he wants to get better, he’s determined to get better.”
But for now, Davis is enjoying his time in the major leagues. He provides the Mets outfield depth, although Jeff McNeil is eligible of come off the injured list this weekend and Brandon Nimmo has been playing rehab games in Syracuse.
“This is a special time of year,” Davis said. “This is a special time to be a part of the New York Mets. I’m just excited (about) what this team is capable (of) and what I believe that we will achieve together.”
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