Davis to debut for Rays Sunday
Right-hander made impression on Maddon in Spring Training
ST. PETERSBURG -- Wade Davis has the glare of a gunslinger just before he draws. Such a look can be unsettling to hitters, because it suggests you might not want to dig in too hard in the batter's box.
Davis offered a chuckle when asked about "the look," attributing this prized virtue for any pitcher to "bone structure."
Rays manager Joe Maddon laughed when told of Davis' comment, adding, "He's got fine bone structure."
The Rays summoned Davis, 23, to St. Petersburg and the raw-boned right-hander from Lake Wales, Fla., made the drive from Durham, N.C., on Wednesday. Along the way, he stopped at his parents' house to drop off his belongings before reaching St. Petersburg close to midnight.
Davis moaned a little about the drive, but he said he was excited to be with the team and making his Major League debut Sunday against the Tigers at Tropicana Field.
"I'm eager to get out there. [I] can't wait for it," Davis said.
Any Rays fans lucky enough to see Davis pitch during the spring saw a dominating mound presence in most of his outings. Among those, his first stint against the Yankees was memorable. Davis started for Tampa Bay in front of a crowd of 10,693 at George M. Steinbrenner Field in Tampa and mowed through the six hitters he faced in two innings, allowing no hits, no walks and striking out three -- including Alex Rodriguez and Mark Teixeira.
That experience against the Yankees went a long way toward building Davis' confidence.
"I think it helped me realize [that they are the] same hitters but a little bit better, but I can get them out," Davis said.
After Davis' stint against the Yankees, Maddon employed a saying by former Major Leaguer and current Rays Minor League pitching instructor Dick Bosman: "He just needs a little more mileage."
Davis acquired the necessary mileage at Triple-A Durham, where he went 10-8 with a 3.40 ERA. He struck out 140 in 158 2/3 innings while walking just 36. And during that time, Davis worked on his changeup to help compliment his fastball, curveball and slicer repertoire.
"[The changeup has] gotten a lot better," Davis said. "I've gotten better control of it. Hopefully I can bring it out there."
Whatever Davis brings will come in the midst of a pennant race in which the Rays are fighting to earn a spot in the postseason party.
Davis allowed that he's a little nervous about making his Major League debut, but "a good nervous, not too nervous -- ready to go."
"My main goal is to stay relaxed and stay within myself," Davis said. "And if I can do that, everything should be OK."
Bill Chastain is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.