In mid-February, Davis was very sore because of Millwood.

And vice-versa.
In mid-February, Davis was very sore because of Millwood.

And vice-versa.

Davis Is Fishing For Reel Success

Jason Davis currently is casting for a variety of roles with the 2005 Cleveland Indians.<br><br> A few weeks ago, it was his "casting" in a far different scenario that led to some "sore" feelings with new teammate Kevin Millwood.<br><br> In mid-February, Davis was very sore because of Millwood.<br><br> And vice-versa. <br>

But don't think for a second that the "soreness" was because Millwood's arrival in Cleveland as a free agent virtually eliminated any chance Davis has of returning to the starting rotation to begin the 2005 season.

Rather, the reason both pitchers were sore just a few days before the start of spring training was because they spent a day at sea, reeling in some of the roughest, toughest fish you could ever imagine.

"It was the day after Valentine's Day and we went deep sea fishing," Davis recalled. "We crushed them. We caught a 60-pound amber jack, a bunch of sharks and a variety of other fish. We were both sore for a couple of days from bringing in all of those big fish."

One thing Davis isn't sore about is the arrival of Millwood, who will either be the No. 2 or 3 man in the rotation. That means the Tribe's starting five will consist of 2004 All-Stars C.C. Sabathia and Jake Westbrook, along with Millwood, Cliff Lee, who tied Westbook for the team lead with 14 victories a year ago, and Scott Elarton, who had a very solid second half of the 2004 season.

"It's amazing how our staff has grown," Davis said. "It's almost unbelievable to see how far we've come."

Davis, who was part of the Tribe's starting rotation to begin the previous two seasons, now finds himself in a situation where he likely will make the roster as the long reliever/emergency starter. There also is talk that eventually he will be the man who replaces Bob Wickman as the team's closer, although not this year.

"It would be an honor to be the closer for this team," said Davis. "But right now I just want to be out there pitching in the big leagues no matter what role I am in. No matter what your role is, you still have to get guys out."

That is what Davis didn't do to begin the '04 season, resulting in his being demoted to Buffalo on July 8.

At the time he was sent down, the 6-6, 210-pound flame-throwing right-hander had a 6.00 ERA, which was the fourth-worst in the American League; had allowed the fifth-most hits in the league (137); the fifth-most runs (74) and ninth-most walks (45).

His 2-6 record would have been much better had the bullpen not blown four games in which he was line for a victory, but that fact alone couldn't save Davis from getting sent to Class AAA for the first time. When he had made his major-league debut on Sept. 9, 2002, for the Indians, he did so by making the jump from Class AA Akron.

Davis started nine games for the Bisons, going 3-2 with a 3.00 ERA. He was recalled to Cleveland on Sept. 4 and that night made what might turn out to be one of the final starts of his big-league career.

After losing a 6-1 decision to the Angels, Davis was sent to the bullpen, where he was nothing short of sensational. In seven appearances, he had a 1.23 ERA. He was so dominating that his performance immediately sparked talk of his being the team's closer of the future.

Wickman's return for the 2005 season definitely contributed to at least a temporary delay in those plans. Meanwhile, Davis is preparing for any potential role in which he will be cast.

"Right now, I am conditioning myself to be a backup starter," he said. "Later on in the spring, I'll go to into the bullpen. After that, we'll see what happens. I'll do whatever they need me to do."

The only thing for sure that Davis doesn't want to do is go back to Buffalo. "I don't plan on ending up in Buffalo," he said. "I want to stay here and work hard in any role they have for me."

Davis says he plans to continue throwing his fastball, split-finger and change-up. "It's very important that I keep throwing all three pitches," he said. "The more quality pitches that you can throw, the better off you will be."

Mentally, he hopes to improve by "picking the brains" of the veterans on the staff. "You just want to hang around everyone and soak up everything that you can," he said. "It's a very good learning experience for me."

He enjoys talking to Wickman in particular. "He's willing to help you out in any way he can," Davis said of the veteran reliever.

Davis will more than likely be one of seven relief pitchers. Others virtually assured of jobs, barring injuries, are Wickman, Howry, David Riske and Arthur Rhodes. Scott Sauerbeck is leading Cliff Bartosh for the second left-handed relief job.

That leaves only one spot from among right-handers Matt Miller, Rafael Betancourt, Fernando Cabrera and Kaz Tadano.

Only time will tell in which role Davis will eventually be cast, but there's no doubt Wedge and his staff not only love his stuff, but his team-first attitude.

Indians Baseball Insider Top Stories