Davis seeing more playing time, making impact

Davis seeing more playing time, making impact

Davis seeing more playing time, making impact
TORONTO -- Blue Jays manager John Farrell has been trying to get Rajai Davis more at-bats, and there was no greater proof of that than Thursday's series finale against the Yankees.

Davis, who has primarily started in place of Eric Thames in left field when a left-hander is on the mound, was given his first start of the season against a righty when Farrell penciled him into the lineup against the Yankees' Phil Hughes.

Farrell said he will start rotating Davis through the outfield more, and that's exactly what he chose to do for Friday's game against the Mets. Davis got the start in center field, while Colby Rasmus received a day off. In the third inning, Davis drilled a two-run homer off Mets starter Jon Niese.

"He brings a different element to our lineup," Farrell said about Davis, who entered Friday tied for the team lead with six stolen bases. "The ability to manufacture runs, create a little bit, hopefully, some uneasiness when he does get on base, and because he's swinging the bat well of late, there's more there than just holding him back for a potential pinch-run. ... He's made an impact in the games that he's started. He's certainly earned the additional at-bats.

Farrell wanted to get Davis more time not just because of his speed, but because he is seeing a different player at the plate.

After a slow start, hitting just .185 with a .290 on-base percentage during the first month, Davis is heating up. The speedster, who stole 34 bases last year after going 40-plus in both 2009 and '10, is batting .400 with a .400 OBP in May,

"A lot of things are just turning around with all the work we've put in," Davis said. "Just staying committed to our routine, early batting practice whenever we get the opportunity. Just keeping my head focused, my mind. Just be ready to play when I get in there and take advantage."

Davis knows the team relies on his speed on the bases, and he relishes the opportunity to utilize that skill when he gets on.

"What I bring to the team is some energy, some life. I just bring a little bit of panic for defenders and a lot of times they don't know what to do. If they focus on the hitter, then I might steal the bag. If they focus on me, then the hitter has the advantage. So that's the type of thing I like to bring and am capable of bringing by just being a threat to steal bases. I'm just trying to get 90 feet closer."

Davis has played all three outfield positions this season, proving he can do more than just spell Thames in left. Friday marked the fourth time he has played center field this year and he has also spent one game in right.

"We get our early work in during batting practice, take reads off the bat," Davis said about preparing for each position. "I just try to stay as alert and focused and as tuned in as possible with what position I'm at each day."