Rajai Davis still ‘specializes’ in speed, even as the Syracuse Mets’ oldest player at 38

first_img Facebook Twitter Google+ The International League’s oldest player, Rajai Davis (38), picks up his second steal of the season. Speed causes mistakes. #Syracuse #Mets #MetsTwitter pic.twitter.com/pTh1zMxcAh— Billy Heyen (@Wheyen3) April 8, 2019 Rajai Davis disobeyed an old baseball adage on Syracuse Mets’ opening day: Don’t make the third out of an inning at third base. The 38-year-old outfielder, standing as the go-ahead run in the eighth inning with Tim Tebow batting, tried to steal third.His head-first slide resulted in a look of disbelief over his left shoulder. The umpire called him out. A manager may have been mad at most players for that costly out. But Tony DeFrancesco shrugged it off, because he trusts Davis.“Rajai’s a veteran,” DeFrancesco said. “He’s got the most stolen bases in the major leagues in the last 10 years. He wanted to be aggressive, and he has the green light.”Davis, even as the Mets’ and International League’s oldest player, is the self-proclaimed fastest player on the roster. He’s stolen 668 bases at a 78.7% clip in his majors and minors career. In an outfield that also includes 35-year-old Gregor Blanco and 33-year-old Carlos Gómez, both major league veterans and base-stealers themselves, Davis is moving quicker than everyone else.“He’s got all his little moves and his things that he does that he practices, and he specializes in it and it’s really cool,” Tebow said of Davis’ base-running.AdvertisementThis is placeholder text Retirement wasn’t an option heading into this season for Davis, he said. He spent the off-season at home in Connecticut, where he grew up watching the New York Mets, specifically Darryl Strawberry and Howard Johnson. So when the Mets offered him a contract this off-season, it made sense to join the organization he grew up following.Besides, his son has just gotten old enough to really see Davis play. Jordan Michael, named intentionally because Michael Jordan’s Chicago Bulls were what Davis called “my team,” is three years old. He wasn’t even one when Davis accomplished maybe the biggest feat of his career.In game seven of the 2016 World Series, Davis kept the Cleveland Indians alive in the ninth inning against Aroldis Chapman. He turned on a ball down the left field line, just over the fence, to tie the game. The veteran known for his speed had temporarily made himself nationally known with his power.That highlight is a source of motivation now, Davis said. He’ll pull out his phone, search up the highlight and take in the moment again. “Relive it, replay it, all the ‘re’s,” he said.“If ever I need a little boost, I got something to pull from, from my archives,” Davis said. “That’s always nice.”Davis feels like he’s 25, not 38. A mindset is all it is, Davis said. He doesn’t wake up with aches and pains like other people his age. It’s more about preparation now, Davis admitted. When he was younger, he could get away with showing up and not worrying about stretching or diet plans.“He does pretty good to be 38. He looks outstanding,” Blanco said. “I was just talking to him about it, it’s amazing. He works pretty hard, every single day and his work ethic is amazing.”Anna Henderson | Digital Design EditorHis veteran status puts him in a mentoring role, something that he said is just who he is. “OTJ” is what Davis called his method: “On the job training.” If he sees something, he’ll address it with the teammate who needs to hear it, nothing more.At Syracuse Mets’ media day, the questions went back-and-forth about Davis’ age and speed. An older player would lose quickness, a reporter suggested. Davis hasn’t started slowing down, though. Gómez and Blanco aren’t speed slouches themselves, combining for 859 professional steals. But as the Mets’ oldest outfielder, Davis still gets hounded about how old he is.“I think they try to joke on me, but until they can run as fast as me,” Davis paused, then winked and grinned. “I’m doing all the laughing.” Comments Published on April 9, 2019 at 10:52 pm Contact Billy: wmheyen@syr.edu | @Wheyen3last_img read more