Davis fills need for power at first base
Callup hit 23 homers with 77 RBIs in Double-A and Triple-A
HOUSTON -- Chris Davis' wait came to an end at around 7 p.m. CT Thursday. Before long, his family knew it and then almost his entire hometown of Longview. Maybe even East Texas.Davis received a phone call from Triple-A Oklahoma manager Bobby Jones telling him that he was going to the Major Leagues.
"It's hard to put into words," Davis said. "It's something I've been working toward since I was 4 years old since I knew what being in the big leagues is all about. I'm getting an opportunity to play with the best."Davis, a left-handed power-hitting first baseman who was the Rangers' fifth-round pick in the 2006 Draft, was called up Thursday after hitting a combined .333 with 23 home runs and 77 RBIs at Oklahoma and Double-A Frisco. He was second in all of the Minor Leagues in home runs and tied for fourth in RBIs. "If you'd asked me when I was drafted two years ago how quickly I wanted to get to the big leagues, I wouldn't have said by now," Davis said. "But it's like I told my dad, I put myself in the best situation possible and kept working hard. Now to finally be here is really exciting." Davis did not start on Thursday in Houston. The Astros had left-hander Wandy Rodriguez on the mound so manager Ron Washington went with Max Ramirez, a right-handed hitter, instead. Davis is expected to start on Friday against Phillies right-hander Brett Myers. Washington said Davis will start against right-handers but also some left-handers. Washington said he expects to sit Davis on Saturday against left-hander Cole Hamels but start him on Sunday with Jamie Moyer on the mound. Moyer is a veteran left-hander, but his best pitch is a changeup that is equally tough on hitters from both sides of the plate. "I just want him to come up here and be who he is," Washington said. "We don't need him to be a superstar or try to do something he can't. Just be who he is. He's a kid with a bright future who is swinging the bat very well. He's a kid who has improved his defensive abilities around first base. He's a kid who we have high hopes for." Davis will replace Frank Catalanotto at first base. Catalanotto went into Thursday's game hitting .324 in his past 24 games and .281 for the season. But he had just 10 RBIs in 167 at-bats for the season, and the Rangers, going into Thursday's game, had just 26 RBIs from the first-base position, tied with the Royals for the fewest from that position in the American League. "Obviously Chris is doing a great job in the Minor Leagues and first base is a position they need more production out of," Catalanotto said. "I've got to look in the mirror instead of complaining. I'm not putting up great numbers and they need more production from that position. "I'm not happy I'm not playing because I come to the ballpark wanting to play. But I don't think it's a terrible surprise to me. If I was putting up good numbers, it wouldn't be an issue. If I want to be in the lineup, I've got to produce." The Rangers also made room for Davis by designating first baseman Chris Shelton for assignment. Shelton hit .216 with two home runs and 11 RBIs in 41 games. Davis is here, but it's still unclear if it's permanent or a temporary assignment. Much depends on Hank Blalock, who is still recovering from a hand injury that has extended his stay on the disabled list. The Rangers are still hoping that Blalock can go back out on a medical rehabilitation assignment as early as next week and be back before the All-Star Game break. Washington made it clear that the plan is still for Blalock to switch from third to first base. Washington said Blalock will still be the Rangers' first baseman when he's healthy. Club officials acknowledged that it will be difficult to have Blalock, Davis and Catalanotto on the same team. "When Hank comes back, Hank is going to play," Washington said. The Rangers just don't know when that's going to be and that's why they called up Davis on Friday. They just got tired of waiting.
T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.