For Wade Davis, the “other” pitcher the Royals acquired late Sunday in a six-player deal with the Tampa Bay Rays, a move to Kansas City means a return to the rotation.
By PETE GRATHOFF
The Kansas City Star
After spending his first three seasons in the majors in Tampa Bay’s starting rotation, he was put in the bullpen this past season because of the Rays’ cache of starters.
But general manager Dayton Moore said Davis will be a part of the Royals’ rotation in 2013.
“It’s something I was hoping to have the opportunity to do, and I’ll be ready,” Davis said of becoming a starter again.
“I’ve done it (started) since I was 12 years old, and I’ve only been in the bullpen for one. It was fun, but (starting is) something I’m more comfortable with, and I enjoy the routine, and it’s very competitive and it’s fun to be a part of.”
Davis, a 27-year-old right-hander, was 3-0 this season with a 2.43 ERA and 1.095 WHIP (walks plus hits per inning pitched) in 54 appearances. In his previous three seasons as a starter, Davis was 25-22 with a 4.22 ERA and 1.355 WHIP in 64 starts.
Royals pitching coach Dave Eiland explained what he thinks Davis has to do to translate his bullpen success into a starter’s role.
“He’s a big guy with some power,” Eiland said. “He needs to go out there and put the foot on the accelerator from the first pitch on. He has the ability to do that. He needs to come right at hitters because he can control any lineup in baseball with that stuff. He has to believe in it.”
In his best full season as a starter, Davis was 12-10 with a 4.07 ERA in 29 starts in 2010. He finished fourth in rookie-of-the-year voting that season, and then beat the Texas Rangers in the first round of the playoffs.
James Shields, the centerpiece pitcher that the Royals acquired in the trade, is impressed with Davis’ stuff.
“Wade has got a powerful arm,” Shields said in a conference call. “He’s got tremendous stuff. His stuff is as good as it gets. He’s a competitor. This year he really took on that role of being in the bullpen. … I think he learned about himself, learned a lot about who he is as a pitcher and what type of a pitcher he is.
“He did such a phenomenal job in the bullpen. I think he’s going to bring that kind of attitude into the rotation, so he’s going to be just fine.”
Davis said his time in the bullpen will be beneficial in his return to the rotation.
“I learned to put my foot on the gas pedal from the get-go rather than working into a rhythm,” Davis said, “and just being able to go out and throw from the start of a game.”