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Saturday, May 17, 2014
Ike: 'Nice to be with a team that likes you'

By Ian Begley

Former Met Ike Davis, back in town to play the Yankees in the Bronx this weekend, has been taking advantage of a fresh start in Pittsburgh.

The first baseman is batting .349 in May, including 12 hits in his past 25 at-bats.

So, what’s the key to his turnaround?

He talked about one aspect of it Saturday afternoon, telling reporters he’s more at ease in Pittsburgh in part because he knows the Pirates think he can help them win.

“It’s nice to play for someone that actually wants you or thinks that you can help the team. Obviously the Mets thought I could help the team ... a couple years [laughs] -- 'cause I was there for almost five,” Davis said. “I had one bad season, and they had to make a change. And they traded me away. I don't really know what else to say about that. It’s nice to be with a team that likes you. I don't think the Mets hated me ... until, you know.”

Davis was batting just .208 with one home run and five RBIs in 12 games prior to his April 18 trade to the Pirates.

He endured a rocky 2013 season in New York, as well, batting .161 through June 9 before being sent down to Triple-A. Davis was recalled July 5 and finished the season at .205, with nine homers and 33 RBIs.

The season prior, Davis got off to another rough start, hitting below .200 through July 3. But he boosted it to .227 by year's end and finished with 32 homers and 90 RBIs.

He said Saturday it was difficult at times in New York because he was asked by the media about constant trade speculation and his slumps at the plate.

Davis said being in Pittsburgh “takes away some of the pressure of the nonsense off the field, like having to answer questions about going 0-for-4. That happens all the time. It’s just when you have to talk about your bad streaks every day, you can think about it more than you want to.”

He added: “Over here, I had a stretch where I went like 1-for-20 or something and no one said a word. And I was like, 'In New York, it would be like the count off in the paper would be like 1-for-19 or 0-for-20.' It’s been nice.”

Davis was a first-round draft pick by the Mets, chosen No. 18 overall in 2008 out of Arizona State. He made his major league debut in 2010 and batted .264 with 19 home runs and 71 RBIs his rookie year.

His 2011 season was cut short after just 36 games because of an ankle injury.

On Saturday, Davis said he felt he was treated fairly by the Mets.

“You guys are putting too much emphasis on the Mets. I had a great couple years, but I don’t hate them. They’re not really in my focus anymore,” Davis said. “I had a great time, I made great friendships, but I’m on the Pirates and there’s not a hatred toward the Mets of, like, vengeance. I’m fine. I’m happy where I’m at. I had a great time with the Mets and I’m not with them anymore. I’m not going to do anything weird to the Mets. I’m just going to go play, and try to beat them. Obviously I just have a lot more friends on the Mets.”

Ike says Citi Field is 'just bigger': Much was made last week of the Mets exploding for six homers and 21 runs over two games at Yankee Stadium and then getting shut out in their next two games at Citi Field during the Subway Series.

“At Citi? It’s just bigger. It’s harder. A couple balls might not get out. They get out here,” Davis said of Yankee Stadium. “Confidence is the biggest thing in baseball. You go up there and hit a couple balls that get caught at the track versus a two-run homer, it’s a game-changer. It goes from ecstasy to, ‘Dang, that could’ve been a homer somewhere else.’ It’s just what it is. Sometimes you hit a ball 405 [feet] to left-center and it could be caught and you hit it 310 [feet] and it gets out somewhere else. It’s the only difference. It’s a little easier to score some runs if you can sneak one over the wall.”