Davis brings 35-homer bat into MLB debut

OF records 1st hit in 1st AB; waiver-claim Joseph adds RBI single

September 5th, 2019

ST. LOUIS -- Jaylin Davis had no idea who it was calling him late Tuesday, one day before he was to begin play in the Pacific Coast League playoffs. The Oregon area code hade him puzzled. He answered anyway.

The man on the other line peppered Davis with a few innocuous questions -- "Is this Davis? Of the Sacramento River Cats?" -- before getting to the punchline.

“Where do you like to play?” he asked next.

“Anywhere in the outfield,” Davis answered.

It was then that Dave Brundage, Davis’ Triple-A manager, identified himself and spilled the news: Davis’ next outfield appearance would come as a Major Leaguer.

Thus began a whirlwind for Davis that included a phone call home to his family in North Carolina and a flight to St. Louis, where Davis was to meet them. When he arrived at Busch Stadium, Davis saw his name in Wednesday’s starting lineup -- batting seventh and playing right field behind Madison Bumgarner. The Giants transferred Reyes Moronta to the 60-day injured list to open a roster spot for Davis.

“It almost doesn’t feel real,” said Davis, who legged out an infield single in the second for his first Major League hit and finished 1-for-3 with a walk in the Giants' 9-8 win over the Cardinals. “I was definitely surprised. I’m happy to be here.”

The Giants had considered leaving Davis in the Minors until the end of Sacramento’s postseason run. Instead, they decided to get a longer look at a power-hitting outfielder who came over to the organization as part of the Trade Deadline deal that sent Sam Dyson to the Twins.

Davis finished the Minor League season with 35 homers in 126 games, a notable jump from the 11 he hit over 120 games in 2018. Ten of those homers came over his 102 at-bats with Sacramento, including six within a three-day span in mid-August.

The uptick in power didn’t happen by accident either. The Twins encouraged Davis to get more balls in the air and had the 25-year-old review video in Spring Training to figure out what mechanical tweaks he could make to do so. Davis adopted the suggested changes, and, as he said on Wednesday, “it just kind of took off from there.”

Across two levels and three Minor League organizations this year, the right-handed-hitting Davis finished with a .306/.397/.590 slash line.

“We’re trying to put our best team here, and he’s been playing very well, and we think he can help us,” manager Bruce Bochy said. “He’s played very well down there. You see the numbers.”

Davis wasn’t the only position player to make his Giants debut on Wednesday. Corban Joseph, who was claimed off waivers on Tuesday, batted behind Davis and played second, his natural position. He went 1-for-5 with an RBI single. Joseph is expected to start at third base on Thursday.

Joseph, who had been designated for assignment by the A’s this weekend, is still trying to find a long-term fit in the Majors. He spent four years in the Minors after making his Major League debut with the Yankees in '13. He then tallied 19 plate appearances with the Orioles last year and another 40 with Oakland in August. Altogether, Joseph has hit .197.

He did, however, flourish in the PCL this year, slashing .371/.421/.585 in 97 games for Oakland’s Triple-A Las Vegas affiliate.

“[I was] just trying to stay simple,” he said on Wednesday. “I think when you go to the PCL, you can get keyed into all the home runs that are hit. I just tried to stick with my approach and simplify my plan, think low line drives. I was successful in getting good pitches to hit.”

Davis has been assigned No. 49, while Joseph will wear No. 47.

Sandoval’s surgery successful

Infielder Pablo Sandoval underwent successful elbow surgery on Wednesday, the Giants announced. Sandoval required a reconstruction of the ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow and had loose bodies removed from his elbow through an arthroscopic procedure. The surgeries were performed by Dr. Neal ElAttrache.

Sandoval, who took his final at-bat of the season on Sunday, was placed on the 60-day injured list on Tuesday.

Bochy honored at Busch

Prior to Wednesday’s game, Cardinals owner Bill DeWitt Jr., president of baseball operations John Mozeliak and manager Mike Shildt joined Bochy behind home plate to recognize the long-time Major League manager for his distinguished career.

The group presented Bochy with a wooden case that included three bottles of wine. Several members of the organization wrote personal messages inside the case for the Giants' skipper.