07/19/12 11:44 AM ET
Rays have effective weapon in Davis out of 'pen
By Bill Chastain and Greg Zeck / MLB.com
The starter-turned-reliever has made a commitment to being successful out of the bullpen, and the results have been good to date.
"There are still some things I'd like to get better at," Davis said. "Execution, coming into the game immediately, things like that. I'm recovering a lot better, though.
"I'm not a 100 percent going back to back on the second day. Some of these guys [in the bullpen] actually feel better on the second day. I'm not there right now at all. But I'm able to throw on back-to-back days and have some success, that's where I'm at right now. Everything is going pretty good."
Tuesday night against the Indians, Davis showed how dominating he can be when he allowed no runs, no hits, no walks and he struck out one in 1 1/3 innings.
Nights like Tuesday make a convincing argument that Davis can be effective out of the bullpen.
"I've always felt like a weapon, no matter what," Davis said. "Whether I was starting, relieving, in high school or in Little League. I always felt like a weapon. No matter what I'm doing, that's what I'm always going to feel like."
While Davis has made progress, he said he has not had a change in his approach.
"The only thing that's been different is now, instead of me working into a tempo or working into a rhythm, I just come out and just let it go," Davis said. "Now I'm just letting it go instead of trying to find a rhythm, which is awesome. I feel like if I ever go back to starting, I'll do that and it will really be beneficial. I've always thought that would be a negative if I went out there and cut loose. Now I know I can do that. And I proved to myself I can do it, too, and it works."
Davis does not believe he's all the way there as far as being the relief pitcher he wants to be, but he's close.
"The definition of a bullpen pitcher is to be able to come in and be great," Davis said. "I think I've been good at times. OK at times. But I want to come in and be great. [Fernando] Rodney comes in and he's like, 'Here you go, here it is, see you later.' I mean, that's what we're all trying to do. I'm not quite there yet, but I'm getting there."
Rays manager Joe Maddon shares Davis' assessment of how he is doing.
"I have faith he can get out a good hitter at a crucial moment, but there is still the time to get him warmed up to come in the game that you have to be careful with or understand," Maddon said. "He still needs more time, still, than other guys. All those things are factors that kind of prevent you a little bit from putting him out there like a [Joel] Peralta or a Rodney, J.P. [Howell], or the guys who have been doing it awhile. But he's getting better at it. He's getting shorter in his warmup time and more resilient."
Jennings finding groove lower in Rays' order
ST. PETERSBURG -- A different spot in the lineup may be all outfielder Desmond Jennings needed to get back on track.
Since July 8, the speedy Jennings has been in the bottom third of the order, usually batting seventh and playing left field. In the stretch of seven games, he is batting .333 with a homer and seven RBIs.
Jennings struggled to get on base mightily when he was batting leadoff, hitting just .232 with an on-base percentage of .307.
The change also seems to be working for center fielder B.J. Upton, whose 2-for-4 performance in the leadoff spot on Tuesday helped pace the Rays to a 4-2 win over the Indians.
Tampa Bay manager Joe Maddon has previously said he plans to put Jennings, who is a major threat on the base paths, back at near the top of the order later in the season.
Bill Chastain is a reporter for MLB.com. Greg Zeck is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.