Earlier this week, it was reported that the Detroit Tigers still consider Rajai Davis to be a part-time player even though Andy Dirks is expected to miss the next three months after undergoing back surgery. However, if Davis continues his hot spring, manager Brad Ausmus may have no other choice but to write his name in the lineup card more frequently.
On Thursday afternoon, the Tigers fell to the Miami Marlins by a score of 4-2, but Davis managed to go 1-for-2 with a walk and a stolen base. Davis raised his Spring Training batting average to .360 and now has two doubles, two RBIs and four stolen bases thus far.
Davis struggled with his batting average over the three seasons he spent with the Toronto Blue Jays, but he had a .287 overall average with the Oakland Athletics where he played from 2008-10. One should not read too far into Spring Training statistics, but it would be an unexpected gift for the Tigers if Davis’ spring numbers are an indication that he is once again going to start hitting for the type of average that he did during his days with Oakland.
Davis’ most valuable asset, however, is speed and the ability to steal bases. Therefore, anything he can do with the bat should be considered an extra bonus. Davis has stolen 40 or more bases in four of the past five seasons, and it will certainly be fun to see him run the base-paths this coming season. Speed is a weapon that the Tigers have not possessed in a very long time, and the team should certainly be able to win more tight games now that they have players such as Davis and Ian Kinsler.
Davis’ problem, however, is that he is a right-handed hitter and the Tigers could really use another quality left-handed bat at the moment. If the Tigers were to name Davis as their everyday left fielder, it would render switch-hitting Victor Martinez and Alex Avila the team’s only two left-handed hitting starters.
Nevertheless, there have been Tigers’ teams in the past that have won a lot of games with only a few left-handed sticks. The 2006 team comes most readily to mind as Carlos Guillen and Curtis Granderson were the team’s only consistent left-handed hitters until Sean Casey finally arrived at the trading deadline.
If Davis continues to go out and take care of business, there is still a chance that he could make the Tigers change their mind and win the everyday job in left field.