NEW YORK (AP) — Ike Davis was putting on his Buffalo Bisons uniform about an hour before their afternoon game Monday when he was given the news: The New York Mets needed his big bat.
The offensively challenged Mets purchased Davis' contract from their Triple-A club and inserted the top prospect right into the lineup Monday night, batting him sixth against the Chicago Cubs.
"When you have a player such as that and .... you struggle a little bit at first base, a little bit for productivity, and you have a guy that the baseball people feel could be of help to you, you roll the dice," Mets manager Jerry Manuel said. "I don't see him as necessarily the savior of the deal, I see him as a good complement to what we have."
Davis, who said he has been nervous for the first pitch at every level he played, took several deep breaths as he stepped into the batter's box in the second inning, while the modest crowd gave him an ovation.
He then calmly looped a 1-2 pitch over leaping second baseman Jeff Baker for his first big league hit.
Davis went 2 for 4 with an RBI single in the Mets' 6-1 win over the Cubs.
For a club that just stumbled home from a 2-4 roadtrip in last place in the NL East and a .224 team batting average, there was a definite buzz around Citi Field on Monday. A large media contingent was ready to document the lefty swinging slugger's every move and club executives were upbeat.
Davis took over at first base a day after Mike Jacobs was designated for assignment. His arrival could have come sooner had the Mets not needed an extra reliever after playing 20 innings Saturday night in St. Louis. Right-hander Tobi Stoner was called up Sunday, gave up a run in 2 1-3 innings for the loss to the Cardinals and was shuffled back to Buffalo on Monday.
Instead, Davis, who wowed team executives in spring training where he hit .480 with three homers and 10 RBIs, will get his first big league start in New York, where his dad Ron Davis was a relief pitcher for the Yankees from 1978-81.
Davis said he found out too late to have his father come from Arizona to see his debut, but the two spoke.
Unlike the Atlanta Braves who put heralded 20-year-old rookie Jason Heyward in their opening day lineup after a stellar spring, the Mets were committed to Daniel Murphy at first base and wanted Davis to have some at-bats Triple-A. A first-round pick in 2008, Davis played in Class A St. Lucie and Double-A Binghamton last season.
When Murphy was put on the disabled list with a sprained knee retroactive to March 31, the Mets chose Mike Jacobs as their first baseman. But Jacobs was hitting just 5 for 24 (.208) with one homer and two RBIs in seven games, Murphy was still several weeks away from returning and Davis was batting .364 at Buffalo.
General manager Omar Minaya felt that Davis, who played three years at Arizona State, could handle the pressures of playing in New York and he started thinking about bringing up the youngster "late last week."
"We felt Ike Davis was our best option," Minaya said. "Let's give the kids an opportunity."
Minaya said that he did not tell Davis he is here for good.
But if he can help a lineup that has 27 extra base hits this season, 15th of 16 teams in NL, it will be hard to send back a player back who really impressed his manager and teammates this spring.
"What he showed in spring to me was easy power, fluid power. That really kinda caught my eye. He was a very rhythmic ballplayer, Manuel said. "He just seemed like a guy who understood the rhythm and flow."
Davis knows that there is a lot of pressure playing in New York and for a team that is struggling, but he's ready for the challenge.
"I put more expectations on myself then I let you (media)," he said. "It's a good thing. I just have to go out there and perform."