Mets first baseman Ike Davis missed over 100 games last season due to a left ankle injury.
And now his 2012 is off to a rough start.
According to Marty Noble of MLB.com, the Mets are “treating Davis as if Valley Fever has been diagnosed” and are already planning days off for him this spring. His blood work is not done being reviewed in New York, but there’s a certainty in Port St. Lucie about what it will eventually say.
Valley Fever is a fungal disease common in the southwestern United States and northern Mexico (Davis lives in Arizona) with symptoms ranging from fevers and coughs to rashes and joint aches. It cost former Diamondbacks outfielder Conor Jackson nearly the entire 2009 season and created a hole in former minor leaguer Joe Vavra’s lung. Vavra is now the Twins’ major league hitting coach.
Davis isn’t symptomatic yet, and the disease can clear on its own, but the Mets are prepared for the worst. When asked Saturday whether the team has developed a contingency plan in case the talented 24-year-old is again absent from the lineup, manager Terry Collins replied: “Had to. Have to be prepared. Can’t be blindsided.” Lucas Duda would likely fill in at first base, where he started 37 games in 2011.
The Orioles have inked shortstop Alcides Escobar to a minor league contract, MLB.com’s Joe Trezza reported Saturday. The deal comes with an invitation to spring training and will allow Escobar to earn $700,000 in the majors if he breaks camp with the team (via Jon Heyman of MLB Network). The team has yet to formally announce the agreement.
Escobar, 32, completed an eight-year run with the Royals in 2018. No longer the .280-average, 3.0-fWAR player of seasons past, he hit several career lows after batting .231/.279/.313 with four home runs, eight stolen bases (in 10 chances), and a .593 OPS through 531 plate appearances last year. His defensive ratings also took a hit, and FanGraphs pegged him as the fourth-worst shortstop in the majors after he accumulated -12 DRS over the course of the season, only slightly higher than the Orioles/Dodgers’ Manny Machado, Mets’ Amed Rosario, and Red Sox’ Xander Bogaerts.
Still, Heyman holds that Escobar is being considered for the starting gig this spring and could yet prove an upgrade over top prospects and infield candidates Richie Martin and Drew Jackson. At the very least, the veteran shortstop figures to stabilize the position given Martin and Jackson’s relative inexperience, as both infielders played to varying results in Double-A Tulsa last year and have yet to break into the majors. Should either player earn consideration for the position in camp, however, Escobar might still work his way onto the Opening Day roster in a utility role as he saw some time at third base, second base, and center field in 2018.