Despite a massive, season-long batting slump, Davis will remain a member of the Mets for the immediate future. Manager Terry Collins relayed the news to him Wednesday evening, telling his first baseman that he does not need to worry about an imminent demotion.
"We're a better team with him out there," Collins said.
That proclamation, however, did not come with a guarantee of playing time. Davis was out of the lineup Thursday against Padres left-hander Eric Stults, and will continue to sit anytime Collins believes the pitching matchup does not favor him. It is not a straight platoon at first base -- Collins made that clear. But the Mets hope that by using Davis only when the odds are in his favor, they will effectively be able to jump-start his season.
"This game is all about confidence," Collins said. "It's all about believing in yourself, and when you're going through a slump like Ike is, you lose that confidence. It wears on you. He's not sleeping well. So one of the things we try to do is make sure that he understands we believe in him. We trust him. We think he's an outstanding player, and we told him he's the first baseman."
Collins indicated for the first time last weekend that the Mets might consider demoting Davis to the Minors if he continued scuffling, much as the Blue Jays and Marlins recently did with sluggers Adam Lind and Gaby Sanchez. Davis is hitting just .159 with a .213 on-base percentage in 145 at-bats, the second-lowest mark amongst qualified Major Leaguers.
Each ensuing scuffle brought with it a new round of questioning, which Davis could not prevent from worming into his head.
"You think about it," the first baseman said. "It's just nice to get that out of the way and know that if I go 0-for-4 tomorrow, I'm not going to get sent down.
"Obviously they have confidence in me and they're backing me, and they know I'm going to get through this. So I'm going to be here for a while, and it's just up to me to start playing better."
With Jason Bay, Ruben Tejada and Josh Thole all due back from the disabled list by mid-June, at the latest, a roster crunch looms for the Mets, meaning it's possible the team could reconsider its stance a few weeks from now. But Collins was firm Thursday in saying that Davis is his starting first baseman, which -- if nothing else -- should ease Davis mentally.
Going forward, Davis will focus more on driving the ball to right field, as he did with aplomb as a rookie in 2010. He will attempt to focus less on the intricacies of his batting mechanics and more on his feel at the plate.
"It was the easy way out, and this game's not easy," Collins said of a potential demotion. "If he's going to be an outstanding Major League player, he's got to learn how to fight through some tough times. Every time someone goes in a slump, we're not sending them out. They've got to learn how to fight, and fight through it, and grind out at-bats, and make it work and learn how to adjust. He's not going to learn how to adjust if he's in Buffalo."