PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- Combined, Major Leaguers aged 37 and older not named Rajai Davis stole 16 bases last season. Davis, by himself, swiped 21, easily leading that group with an average Statcast™ sprint speed of 29.3 mph. (For comparison, the fastest Met, Amed Rosario, who was 22 years
PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- Combined, Major Leaguers aged 37 and older not named Rajai Davis stole 16 bases last season. Davis, by himself, swiped 21, easily leading that group with an average Statcast™ sprint speed of 29.3 mph. (For comparison, the fastest Met, Amed Rosario, who was 22 years old last season, averaged 29.4 mph on his sprints.)
Each year, it becomes harder for Davis, now 38, to keep his body in the elite shape necessary to post those numbers. Now in Mets camp on a Minor League deal, however, he hasn't given in to Father Time just yet.
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"You can't neglect it, otherwise it will go," Davis said. "I watch a lot of guys my age that have already lost their speed. It's something you have to constantly work at. And you've got to have a lot of mental strength, I think, to believe you can get faster even at an older age."
Best known for his game-tying home run for the Indians in Game 7 of the 2016 World Series, Davis has kept his career alive with stints in Oakland, Boston and back in Cleveland, where he hit .224 with a .559 OPS in 101 games last season. While Davis' days as anything more than a bench contributor are probably behind him, the Mets signed him to provide Major League-caliber depth at all three outfield spots -- something the organization has notably lacked in recent seasons.
The Mets' Opening Day outfield already appears set, with Michael Conforto and Brandon Nimmo burgeoning stars, Jeff McNeil slated to receive most of his playing time in left, Juan Lagares under guaranteed contract and Keon Broxton out of options. As such, it would likely take an injury for Davis or Grégor Blanco, another non-roster invitee to Mets camp, to crack the roster. Davis said he does have an out in his contract that would allow him to become a free agent in March if he does not make the team, though he could also choose to go to Triple-A Syracuse.
Manager Mickey Callaway, the pitching coach during Davis' first stint in Cleveland, would be happy to have him stick around.
"Those guys can play," Callaway said of Davis and Blanco. "They're Major League players. And they chose to come here for a reason, because they see what we have going on."
Added Davis: "I think it's a really good fit. The Mets are headed in the right direction with a lot of the decisions they made in the offseason, bringing guys in, some veterans. They already have a talented, young core group of guys. So it looks like they have the building blocks for something special."
Expect plenty of television cameras to descend on Mets camp Saturday, when Tim Tebow arrives for the first time this spring. Position players must report by the end of the day, though all but a handful have already arrived at the complex and are taking part in optional workouts.
"It's different," Callaway said. "Guys getting here as early as they've gotten here, the shape they're in, the body transformations that we've seen from guys -- there's a different air in camp."
Keep your eyes open
Callaway has a new housemate this spring: a 12-foot alligator that he's seen snooping around his property. "I'll see him in the morning," the Mets manager said.
Anthony DiComo has covered the Mets for MLB.com since 2007. Follow him on Twitter @AnthonyDiComo, Instagram and Facebook.