Davis thrown a curve with addition of Chapman

March 2nd, 2024

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- set his phone to Do Not Disturb while he caught a late screening of “Dune: Part 2” on Friday night, so he was surprised to find several messages awaiting him when he went online at the end of the movie.

The flurry of texts were in response to the Giants’ deal with third baseman Matt Chapman, Davis’ former teammate at Cal State Fullerton.

“I activated it, and went, ‘Shoot, I’ve got eight text messages,’” Davis said prior to the Giants’ 3-2 loss to the Padres at Scottsdale Stadium on Saturday. “I’m like, ‘What happened? Oh, that happened.’”

It wasn’t an unexpected plot twist for the Giants. Bob Melvin managed Chapman for five seasons in Oakland, so the Giants had been frequently linked to the four-time Gold Glove Award winner throughout the offseason. The fallout of the move remains unclear, though, leaving Davis -- the club’s incumbent third baseman -- in limbo.

“I don’t really want to put my foot in my mouth because I don’t really know what the game plan is and what [president of baseball operations] Farhan [Zaidi] wants to do or how he wants to go about it,” Davis said. “I felt like I proved myself this last year, having just 30-35 bad games and not really wanting to take the back seat. However, I want to win games. I want to do what’s best for the team. I guess we’ll just go from there.”

Davis, 30, said he had not yet spoken with the Giants’ front office as of Saturday morning, though he expected those conversations to happen later in the day. Still, Davis finds himself in an eerily similar spot to the one he was in over a decade ago in college, when he was also forced to move off his natural position and give way to Chapman at third.

With Chapman entrenched at the hot corner, Davis ended up starting at designated hitter in his first two seasons with the Titans and then moved to right field for his junior year. He sees three possible outcomes for his current predicament with the Giants: He gets traded, he shifts to a bench role or he keeps his starting spot at third, with Chapman sliding over to play shortstop.

Davis, who is entering his final season before free agency, made his personal preference clear.

“I would love to be a starter,” Davis said. “I would love to be a third baseman. That’s been my dream. That’s something that I have lived through the last year and a half, being so close to home, playing in my backyard and wearing that Giants jersey and being a starting third baseman. Of course, there’s a preference to play every single game. But in this business, you don’t really have choices. Some things just happen and some people in the front office have different visions on their team and the lineup they want to see.”

Black on the bump

Mason Black, who is among the leading candidates to replace the injured Tristan Beck in the Giants’ starting rotation, took a step forward in his second Cactus League start on Saturday, giving up one run on three hits over three innings.

Black, the club’s No. 9 prospect, struck out the side in the first inning and retired six of the first seven batters he faced, but he was hurt by a defensive miscue by left fielder Wade Meckler, who lost Bryce Johnson’s fly ball in the sun and allowed it to fall for a leadoff double in the third. Johnson advanced to third on a bunt single by Jakob Marsee and then scored on a wild pitch, accounting for the only damage against Black.

The 24-year-old right-hander certainly left a better impression than in his spring debut, when he surrendered a leadoff homer on his first pitch of the game against the Angels.

“It was really good,” Melvin said. “That was a night-and-day difference there. As you saw in the first inning, kind of that unique arm slot to get swings and misses at the top of the zone. You’re always looking to see how they kind of respond, especially early on after a tough first inning last time.”

Adding Chapman isn’t expected to preclude the Giants from signing another free-agent starter like Blake Snell or Jordan Montgomery, but if they prefer to stick with their internal options, Black could have a prime opportunity to win a spot on the Opening Day roster in the coming weeks.

“The opportunity kind of is what it is,” Black said. “I think regardless of who fills that role, they’re going to help the team win. If that’s me, that’s what I’m trying to do. I’m going to hope for the best and try to take it one day at a time.”