After long road back, Davis called up by Nats
Righty overcomes Tommy John surgery to return to Majors for first time since '13
MIAMI -- It has been a long road back to the majors for right-hander Erik Davis, whom the Nationals recalled from Double-A Harrisburg prior to Sunday's finale against the Marlins.
Davis, who made his Major League debut on June 2, 2013, returns to the big leagues for the first time in two seasons.
The 28-year-old righty underwent Tommy John surgery in April 2014 after sustaining a right elbow sprain in early February. He missed all of last season before seeing the mound again in 2015. In 37 outings in the Minors, Davis went 1-2 with a 3.88 ERA. Over 48 2/3 innings, he struck out 47 batters and walked 27.
It's been a good year," Davis said. "Up and down results-wise, but the biggest thing for me was making it through healthy. Up to this point, I felt really good. It was a tough progression, but toward the last few months of the season, I thought I was really making some strides. It's good to feel I made it back, but now it's time to produce up here. Just getting back is all I could ask for."
Davis began the journey in Class A Potomac, tossing consecutive scoreless rehab appearances over three frames in early May. He moved onto Double-A Harrisburg and got promoted to Triple-A Syracuse two outings later. He was reassigned to Harrisburg in late June.
From July 29 to Sept. 5, Davis allowed a run just once in 12 games with the Senators. He noticed the difference over the course of several months.
"Compared to how it felt at the beginning of the season, it's night and day," Davis said. "The toughest thing is how you recover day to day. Once I was out there pitching, I felt great. Especially in May and June it was a day, two days after I pitched was the toughest part. But once I was out on the mound is when I felt the most comfortable. These last few months I could tell the way I was recovering was getting a lot quicker. My stuff had improved a lot. I was feeling good. It's nice that they trust me to come up here to help this team win."
Before the injury, Davis expected to be an option in Washington's bullpen in 2014. During two stints with the ballclub in 2013, he posted a 1-0 record and 3.12 ERA in 10 appearances. He is arbitration eligible following the 2016 season.
"It was tough because full-time recovering from an injury ... your whole career you spend it expecting to do stuff when you're healthy, and that was my first time I was ever missing a lot of time due to injury," Davis said. "It was hard to approach it from that perspective. The team's been very supportive of me and given me more chances than I could probably ever expect. When I was feeling down, I just had to trust what they were telling me and trust the process -- what I keep saying. It's got me back here. They've been great to me, so I can't complain at all."
Washington also recalled infielder Wilmer Difo -- the organization's No. 4 prospect according to MLB.com -- from Harrisburg. Though he had a locker in the visiting clubhouse waiting for him, he was still en route to the ballpark.