I was certain heading into last night’s contest that first baseman Ike Davis had bid farewell to his week and a half long slump to start the season. His 5-18 spurt with three homers and six rib-eye steaks gave me hope that the worst was behind him and that it would be smooth sailing from here on in. Then he goes 0-for-5 last night against the Giants and picks up two more strikeouts to add to the 15 he’s already collected this season.
Even though it’s April and plenty of baseball remains, there is something very unsightly about Ike’s .140 batting average and .204 OBP. According to a quote I found on ESPN, mamager Terry Collins doesn’t sem to be very concerned about it:
“I know he’s working, he’s been out early, he’s been hitting early on the road, he hit early yesterday, we’re trying to get him going and as I told him, I move him and get him to relax, but I haven’t got anybody else I can put in that spot right now,” Collins said. “We’ve got to be patient with him and I think eventually and very soon he’s going to start doing some damage.”
That’s all fine and dandy, but I also know Terry Collins is never going to throw one of his players under the bus and will always speak positively about one of his players to a room packed with reporters. The truth about how he feels is somewhere in between I’m sure.
That said, Bobby Ojeda didn’t pull any punches during the SNY post game last night and he reminded us that technically this is Ike Davis’ sophomore year after having his 2011 season cancelled out due to the ankle injury. The book is out on Ike Davis and that healthy regimen of fastballs he feasted on in 2012 are no longer there and won’t be until he starts making some adjustments.
Ojeda is right. Pitchers are throwing Ike everything but the kitchen sink and fastballs. Those tasty 93 mile per hour offerings are no longer on the menu, and while he may get lucky and hit a hanger or a one-in-a-million rare heater now and then, Davis has to stop chasing that junk he finds too irresistible to ignore.
This is where hitting coach Dave Hudgens comes in. It’s great that our young first baseman is in the batting cage and taking extra reps to try and get out of this funk he’s in, but getting fed 80 mph fastballs from one of the coaches is not how Davis is going to overcome this malaise. April is almost over and what Davis needs more than a dozen extra swings a day in batting practice, is for someone to have him change his approach at the plate.
Another thing that concerns me is Ike’s demeanor at the plate and how he reacts on close pitches that don’t go his way or his emotional displays after every strikeout. When a a Cy-Young type pitcher like Cliff Lee barely misses the outside part of the plate, he’s gonna get that call every time. There’s no use jawing about it to the ump and Davis’ reputation in that regard is growing quickly and will only serve against him. If not Hudgens, than Collins or somebody else needs to have him tone it down up there.
I see a promising young slugger in Ike Davis, but one that still needs some tweaking and refining. If he doesn’t start making adjustments soon, this two week slump could quickly evolve into the classic sophomore slump.