Giants' Davis has 3 goals for himself in '23
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- J.D. Davis isn’t shying away from setting lofty goals for himself as he enters his first full season with the Giants. Among his ambitions: Win a Gold Glove Award; be one of the best hitters in the league; and perhaps most importantly, establish himself as an everyday player.
“I didn’t have that many opportunities with New York, so coming over here, and finding a place, either first or third [base], that’d be great,” Davis said.
Davis, 29, took on more of a part-time role after being acquired from the Mets as part of the Darin Ruf trade last August, but he performed well over the final two months of the 2022 campaign. In 49 games with the Giants, Davis batted .263 with an .857 OPS and eight home runs.
Despite posting even splits, Davis still doesn’t appear to have a clear path to a regular role on the Giants’ roster. With LaMonte Wade Jr. and David Villar in line for the starting jobs at first and third base, respectively, Davis will likely draw most of his starts against lefties and split time at first base and designated hitter with Wilmer Flores.
“J.D.’s fit in the clubhouse is almost perfect,” manager Gabe Kapler said. “But you wish you had one more position so you can pencil J.D. into the lineup every day and just forget about it. He’s a good hitter against righties and lefties. Some of the best exit velocities you’ll see in the game. I think he makes really good swing decisions.
“The only thing I think is stopping him from being a superstar hitter is that there is some swing-and-miss in the zone. It’s not overwhelming, but it’s kind of enough to make him mortal. I think that’s one area of improvement for J.D., but I feel good about him around the bag on both sides.”
Between Villar, Davis and Flores, the Giants are poised to carry three right-handed hitters who are best suited for the corner infield, but president of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi said he feels there will be enough at-bats to spread around during the regular season. Even if Davis and Flores aren’t in the starting lineup against righties, they should be available to come off the bench as soon as opposing teams bring left-handed relievers into the game.
"We really like all those guys," Zaidi said. "There is some redundancy, but there is a role and at-bats for each of those guys."
Davis isn’t too concerned about his playing time, as he knows unforeseen circumstances can often change the roster outlook over the course of a 162-game season.
“If one, two, three guys go down, everyone’s got to strap it on and really play a different position or be a little more flexible in different situations,” Davis said. “It’s a long season. I think over time, if I get at-bats, I’m going to be able to produce well for this team.”
Another learning experience for Harrison
Left-hander Kyle Harrison, who is ranked as the Giants’ No. 1 prospect by MLB Pipeline, struggled in his first career Cactus League start on Tuesday. Harrison surrendered five runs on five hits while walking one and striking out two over 1 2/3 innings in a 7-3 loss to the Reds at Goodyear Ballpark.
Harrison was expected to throw two-plus innings, but he ran into trouble in the first, giving up a leadoff double to Jonathan India, a single to Tyler Stephenson and a three-run homer to TJ Friedl. Harrison departed after recording only two outs and reentered the game in the second, though he allowed another run after India doubled again, and a single by Wil Myers brought him home.
“Obviously not the result I wanted, but I’m just trying to go out there and compete and throw strikes,” Harrison said. “It’s good to see how the stuff plays with guys like that in the box. There are definitely some adjustments to be made, so we’ll get back to it.”
Harrison has allowed seven earned runs over 2 2/3 innings through his first two appearances, but Kapler said he believes these growing pains will serve the 21-year-old well moving forward.
“It's a really good experience for him,” Kapler said. “This is what Spring Training is for, to work some of the kinks out and get your first experiences doing things like starting a Major League Spring Training game. He threw strikes, his stuff was coming out good. He was just kind of in the middle of the plate a little bit. Major League hitters are good, and that’s what happens.”