Jason Davis looks the same as in this 2007 photo.
GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- You never know who you may bump into at the Indians' spring training camp -- even on the big-league team's only day off. Jason Davis, grinning from ear to ear, was on the minor-league fields early this morning. Out of baseball for two years, the 30-year-old right-hander said he asked the Indians for a tryout. They sent him a plane ticket and he's trying to jump-start his career.
It's a long shot that Davis will be offered a contract and an astronomical chance that he will ever wear an Indians uniform at the big-league level again, but the right-hander's appearance underscores what spring training is all about.
It's about the dream of playing in the majors. Whether you are an 8-year-old tossing the ball around in the backyard with your dad, or a 60-year-old picking up an errant throw from your grandson, it is a dream that always will be there.
It's there for Davis, who eight years ago was the No. 2 starter on a rebuilding Cleveland team. He threw hard, occasionally tripping triple digits on the radar gun at Jacobs Field. He had his moments, going 8-11 as a rookie for a team that with brand-new manager Eric Wedge needed all the help it could get.
In his second year, Davis had difficulty repeating his delivery and throwing strikes. The more he tried, the tougher it got.
By his third year, he was moved to the bullpen. By 2007, he was traded to Seattle, then Pittsburgh. By 2009, he never made it to the majors and went a very ugly 0-8 with a 6.06 ERA for the Pirates' Triple-A farm team.
By 2010, the closest Davis got to a diamond was coaching first base for his 7-year-old daughter's softball team.
"I really, really missed the game," Davis said. "I asked the Indians for a tryout and they were very nice because here I am.
"I'm happier now than I have been in years. I have no promises, no guarantees, other than an opportunity. I'm very lucky and grateful to be here."
Davis' control woes showed in his first field appearance on Wednesday. In a game against Cincinnati Reds minor-league prospects, he walked the first batter he faced and hit the next one with a pitch. The first pitch to the next guy went BEHIND him for a wild pitch. Two pitches later, another wild pitch, this one to the opposite side of the plate and back to the screen, scored a run.
"I was overthrowing," Davis said sheepishly.
The big fella was so amped up for his performance that he warmed up too early.
Josh Tomlin worked the first five innings. The right-hander showed pinpoint command of a nice fastball, sharp curve and good changeup. He used only 52 pitches.
Davis was told by major-league pitching coach Tim Belcher that he would work the sixth. During the fourth inning, Davis summoned catcher Matt McBride and went to the warmup area. They came back an inning later and Belcher met them with a quizzical look. He told Davis that Tomlin was working another inning and to go back to the bullpen.
NOTABLE: Four Indians did some meaningful work on the off day. Catcher Luke Carlin and right-handers Frank Herrmann, Justin Masterson and Vinnie Pestano visited with patients and their families at the nearby Cancer Treatment Center Hospital. The four passed out bags filled with Indians items, signed autographs and took pictures with the patients and their families who are currently receiving treatment at the hospital. Carlin and PR man Bart Swain arranged the visit.
Vinnie Pestano (black shirt), Luke Carlin (white shirt), Justin Masterson (blue shirt) and Frank Herrmann (right) with the staff at the Cancer Treatment Center Hospital.