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.
Hunter Pence was thought to be on his way to retirement after a lackluster 2018 season with the Giants. As he entered his mid-30’s, Pence spent a considerable amount of time on the injured list, playing in 389 out of 648 possible regular season games with the Giants from 2015-18.
Pence, however, kept his career going, inking a minor league deal with the Rangers in February. He performed very well in spring training, earning a spot on the Opening Day roster. Pence hasn’t stopped hitting.
Entering Monday night’s game against the Mariners, Pence was batting .299/.358/.619 with eight home runs and 28 RBI in 109 plate appearances, mostly as a DH. Statcast agrees that Pence has been mashing the ball. He has an average exit velocity of 93.3 MPH this season, which would obliterate his marks in each of the previous four seasons since Statcast became a thing. His career average exit velocity is 89.8 MPH. He has “barreled” the ball 10.4 percent of the time, well above his 6.2 percent average.
What Pence did to a baseball in the seventh inning of Monday’s game, then, shouldn’t come as a surprise.
That’s No. 9 on the year for Pence. Statcast measured it at 449 feet and 108.3 MPH off the bat. Not only is Pence not retired, he may be a lucrative trade chip for the Rangers leading up to the trade deadline at the end of July.