NEW YORK -- Ike Davis mostly played down the significance of his return to Citi Field for the first time since the Mets traded him to the Pirates last month, but in a pregame meeting with nearly two dozen members of the New York and Pittsburgh media, the hot-hitting first baseman made clear what he expected Monday afternoon.
"I'm assuming it's going to be a lot of boos," Davis said, a prediction that proved wrong. "But who knows?
"It's weird. I've never been to the other side."
Pittsburgh acquired Davis from the Mets on April 18 in a deal that helped both teams -- it added a quality bat to the middle of the Pirates lineup and allowed the Mets to put Lucas Duda at first base full time. Given the hoopla surrounding the pair before the trade, and Monday's series opener representing the first time Davis is back at his old home, it was a natural chance to take stock of the last five-plus weeks.
For Davis, the change has been nothing but positive. He tweaked his offensive approach -- he now bends his leg less than he did previously -- and is hitting .303 since joining the Pirates entering Monday. Davis' new teammates accepted him immediately, he said, and manager Clint Hurdle recently started slotting him in the No. 4 spot, where Davis is a .318 hitter this season.
He also has an easier time in public.
"Going to get coffee, I don't get hitting tips," Davis half-joked. "I don't know if that's a good or bad thing. But I don't need to think about my stance at 9 in the morning."
Yes, Davis explained, he really did get instruction from fans in the Big Apple.
"I probably should've listened to more of them," Davis said.
Hurdle was confident Davis didn't harbor any hard feelings against the Mets, and Davis backed that up.
"It all depends on the person, and most of those [feelings] are because people have rocks in their shoes still," Hurdle said. "I think he dumped his shoes out when he got here. We encouraged him to do that."
That the Mets picked Duda over him doesn't matter much to Davis.
"That's life," said Davis with a smile. "The Pirates like me."
Cumpton looks to find long-term home in Majors
NEW YORK -- The routine has been very much that for Brandon Cumpton the last two seasons: get called up to Pittsburgh, pitch, get sent back down to Triple-A Indianapolis. Pittsburgh, Indy, Pittsburgh, Indy -- 11 times since the start of 2013, the Pirates moved Cumpton from one level to another, usually for the sake of a one- or two-game stint in the Majors.
This time, though, he's getting a legitimate chance to stick in the bigs, even aside from what happens Monday against the Mets.
"We believe he's at the top of the list of guys who have earned this opportunity," manager Clint Hurdle said. "He's been given spot starts. Time for him to go ahead and get an opportunity that's got some legs to it."
Hurdle commended Cumpton's fastball command, confidence and "blue collar mentality," but there is plenty of room for improvement. In only two of his eight Major League games (seven starts) has the 25-year-old right-hander finished as many as six innings. It doesn't take away from his overall impressive numbers -- a 2.70 ERA and 0.99 WHIP to go with a 5.17 strikeout-to-walk ratio -- but Hurdle would like see to see him pitch a little deeper.
In his most recent big league start on May 1 against the Orioles, Cumpton shut out Baltimore for five innings, but he could not escape the sixth. He gave up four runs on four hits while recording two outs.
"A handful of times the sixth inning has complicated things for him," Hurdle said. "It's the third time through the lineup that's always the biggest question for a young pitcher coming from Triple-A to the Major Leagues. Can they navigate three times through the lineup?"
So far, Cumpton hasn't. In his seven starts (40 1/3 innings), he limits opposing batters to a .105 average, .190 on-base percentage and .105 slugging mark the first time through the lineup. The second time around, those numbers leap to a still-effective .254/.290/.339, but the third time through a lineup, they are .382/.405/.529.
Tim Healey is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.