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SportsColumnistsAnthony Rieber

Ike Davis: 'The Pirates like me'

Pittsburgh Pirates first baseman Ike Davis looks on

Pittsburgh Pirates first baseman Ike Davis looks on against the New York Mets in his first game back at Citi Field on Monday, May 26, 2014. Credit: Kathleen Malone-Van Dyke

This is what Sandy Alderson and his lieutenants are paid to do. To decide.

"We had to make a decision," Mets manager Terry Collins said, "and the decision was made."

Lucas Duda over Ike Davis.

In reality, it was made late in 2013, but the implementation wasn't finalized until Davis was traded to the Pittsburgh Pirates on April 18 and Duda was handed the first-base job.

The decision was rehashed Monday because Davis returned to Citi Field for the first time as a Pirate.

Davis went 0-for-2 with a walk and was removed for a pinch hitter against a lefty. Duda went 2-for-4 with a leadoff homer in the ninth inning of the Mets' 5-3 defeat.

Pirates manager Clint Hurdle, himself a former Met, said he didn't detect any bitterness from Davis. Really, it's hard to imagine that from Davis, who is one of the nicest guys around.

"Most of those reasons [to be bitter] are people who've got rocks in their shoes," Hurdle said. "I think he dumped his shoes out when he got here. We encouraged him to do that."

Davis said he thought he would be booed, but the response was plenty positive when he came to bat on Memorial Day. Davis was booed regularly when he failed to produce as a Met. So the fans who were at Monday's game must have dumped their shoes out, too.

"It was a lot of cheering," Davis said. "That was pretty nice of them."

The supposed spring-training competition between Duda and Davis never got off the ground because both were injured for about three weeks. It was as tepid as the movie "Alien vs. Predator," a forgettable film which for some reason spawned a sequel.

Thankfully for Duda and Davis, there will be no sequel here. After some hemming and hawing and uncomfortable moments, the Mets made the irrevocable choice to give up on their first-round pick (18th overall) in the 2008 draft who hit 32 home runs as recently as 2012.

Since the trade, Davis is batting .297 with two homers and 11 RBIs. His six-game hitting streak was snapped Monday.

Over the same span, Duda is batting .220 with three homers and 12 RBIs.

The final verdict won't come until we see how the players the Mets received from Pittsburgh pan out. Righthanded reliever Zack Thornton has a 2.60 ERA at Triple-A Las Vegas, but he's 26.

There's also a player to be named later. He won't be revealed until after the June 5 draft.

Davis actually has been back to New York already, when the Pirates visited the Yankees on May 17-18. So he's already answered questions about his new and old homes. But that didn't stop him from getting off a quip when asked what the best part is about the Steel City.

"Maybe going to get coffee and I don't get hitting tips," he said. "Maybe that's the best thing. I don't have to think about my stance at 9 in the morning."

And why is he hitting better since leaving the Mets?

"I found my swing a little earlier this year," Davis said. "Who knows if it's going to last the whole year?"

Who knows if Davis will ever become the player the Mets once thought he would? And then decided he wouldn't.

"That's life," Davis said, his shoes clearly rock-free. "But the Pirates like me."


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