Corsicana Daily Sun, Corsicana, Texas


May 8, 2012

MLB: Chris Davis pitches first game since Navarro College

James Russell knows something about succeeding as a pitcher at the Major League level. He’s off to a brilliant start this season for the Chicago Cubs.

So as Russell, an ex-Navarro Bulldog and current Cubs reliever, watched highlights of his junior college teammate Chris Davis throwing 92-mph fastballs and getting out Boston hitters in Baltimore’s 9-6 17-inning victory over the Red Sox on Sunday, he was somewhat surprised.

And also impressed —considering Davis was pitching for the first time since they were together at Navarro in 2006.   

Davis, the Orioles’ everyday first baseman, hurled his way into the record books as the first American League position player to win a game as a pitcher since Rocky Colavito did it for the Yankees on Aug. 25, 1968.

“He’s a good athlete,” said Russell, who has an 0.87 ERA in 11 games for the Cubs this season. “I knew he could get a couple of outs. I didn’t know he would go two innings. That’s good work for a first baseman.”

Davis’ story became the talk of baseball on Monday. Davis wrote via text Monday afternoon that the Orioles media relations department had been inundated with interview requests. He was met by a media mob when he arrived in the Orioles clubhouse.

The Baltimore Sun reported that Davis looked at all of the reporters and flashed an amused smile and said, “What do you guys want to talk about?” he asked. “Hitting?”

Actually Davis’ hitting performance in the 17-inning game also helped him make history. He was the first player to go 0-for-8 at the plate and get a win in 107 years.

Hall of Famer Rube Waddell was the last to do it for the Philadelphia A’s in a 20-inning game against Cy Young in 1905.

Davis, who was traded by the Rangers partly because of his hitting struggles, is off to a great start for the Baltimore — Monday not withstanding. He is batting .288 with five home runs and 14 RBIs as the Orioles have gotten off to a surprising 19-11 start (Baltimore lost a second straight game to Davis’ former team the Rangers on Tuesday).

But his pitching has put him on the national radar this week.

Davis was forced into action when the Orioles used up all eight of their relievers. Baltimore manager Buck Showalter pointed to Davis in the 15th inning and directed him to go to the bullpen to warm up.

Showalter, the Rangers manager from 2003-06, said Davis was discussed as a pitcher and a position player prior to the Rangers drafting him out of Navarro in 2006.

“We talked in the spring,” Showalter said by text message Monday. “Have to read the bios of your players. I love media guides.”

Davis used an 83-mph changeup to strike out former Rangers teammate Jarrod Saltalamacchia to start the bottom of the 16th. The Orioles almost lost the game with two outs in the 16th, but center fielder Adam Jones and shortstop J.J. Hardy combined on a relay to get an out at home to keep the game going.

The Orioles took the lead with three runs in the top of the 17th. Davis, pitching for the win, put the first two Red Sox on base. But he struck out Boston slugger Adrian Gonzalez on three pitches and then got a double-play ball from Darnell McDonald to end the game.

“He was putting some sink and moving a couple of pitches,” Russell said. “He was bringing it in there for a guy who hasn’t thrown a lot.”

Navarro coach Whoa Dill, who was an assistant when Davis played for the Bulldogs in 2005-06, took great pleasure in watching his former player make a surprise appearance as a pitcher.  

“Did you see how hard he was throwing? He was throwing 92 with a 83 changeup,” said Dill, himself a college pitcher at Navarro and UT-Arlington. “He pitched in high school. He threw more as a freshman than as a sophomore (at Navarro). He has a good arm.”

Davis played shortstop at Longview High School, and after arriving at Navarro via the University of Texas, he was used some as a closer.

But the Bulldogs had Russell and Jess Todd, who has pitched in the big leagues and is currently in Triple-A with the Memphis Redbirds of the St. Louis Cardinals organization.

“We had plenty of pitching,” Dill said, “and Chris could hit.”

Davis did have a 1-2 record with three saves in 2006. He had a 4.15 ERA and 14 strikeouts in 8 2/3 innings. He also had 18 home runs, a monster total considering the Bulldogs’ spacious ballpark at Graham Field.

“It was fun watching him hit them out,” Russell said. “But I remember if we were in a close game, he would come in when we needed him and throw 93 (mph).”

Davis told the Baltimore Sun that his phone blew up after the game. Two of those sending him text messages were Russell and Dill.

“I had about 60 texts after the game from people giving me a hard time about I should’ve been pitching the whole time, the usual stuff,” Davis told the Baltimore Sun. “But everyone told me they were proud of the way I hung in there and proud of the way this team is [playing.]”

Text Only
  • Area schedule for the week

    Here's a look at this week's schedule for Golden Ciircle teams and Navarro College. The schedule does not include upcoming bi-district playoff games in softball because times and sites have yet to be determined.

    April 18, 2014

  • BG baseball GC Baseball/Softball: Blooming Grove sweeps Rice in baseball and softball

    Blooming Grove's Lions needed this one.
    Heck, they need all of them.
    That's where they're living today on the Blooming Grove diamond, where everyone knew going into Friday's game with Rice that the Lions need to win their final three games to have a chance of nailing down the final playoff spot in District 23-2A.
    One down, two to go.
    “It's in our hands,'' said Blooming Grove Coach Matt Anderson moments after his kids beat Rice 8-0 Friday night. “As long as we take care of our business we'll be fine.''

    April 18, 2014 2 Photos

  • GC Softball/Baseball Roundup: Frost girls win district title

    Frost's Lady Polar Bears needed to win to nail down the district title and they never trailed, jumping out to a 7-0 lead en route to an 11-7 clinching victory over Itasca Friday on the road. They wrapped up their second district title in a row with a 9-1 record and enter the playoffs next week at 13-1.

    April 18, 2014

  • CHS Baseball/Softball: Whitehouse sweeps Tigers in baseball and softball

    The Tigers lost a tough game to Whitehouse, 11-3 as the Wildcats' ace, Pat Mahomes, who went four innings and gave up all three runs on two hits and five walks

    April 18, 2014

  • GC Basketball/Baseball: Mildred's Connor Hill sees life clearly

    There was never any doubt for Connor Hill, never any question about what he would do or how he would do it.
    Sure, there was that meeting with his mother and father and talks with the doctor when he was 10, talks and meetings that came accompanied with worry and concern.
    But never from Connor.
    He just never dwelled on the fact he played sports with one eye. He didn't worry or talk about it when he was 10 and he never talked about it at Mildred High, where Hill emerged as a star on the basketball court and baseball diamond.

    April 18, 2014

  • Frost Lady Polar Bears Area Champions.jpg GC Track & Field: Roundup — Frost girls win area meet

    The Frost Lady Polar Bears made a shambles of their district track & field meet last week, scoring 206 points, and they were dominate again in the area meet Thursday, scoring 162 points to win the meet at Blooming Grove.

    April 18, 2014 1 Photo

  • RON MORGAN.jpg Morgan:The new endangered species

    Am I just that old, or have amateur athletics gone absolutely nuts these days? On second thought, don’t answer that unless it’s yes to the nuts part.
    High School and college basketball are on the verge of being totally ruined by AAU basketball. Top roundball prospects are identified by the junior high level if not earlier.

    April 18, 2014 1 Photo

  • GC Track & Field: Area meet Roundup

    Corsicana's Gilfillan wins 4A area pole vault title; Frost girls win 1A area team title, Frost boys finish second

    April 17, 2014

  • GC Baseball: Mildred falls to Riesel, 9-0, on the road

    Mildred managed a hit and struck out 12 times in a 9-0 loss on the road that could have given the Eagles some cushion in the 23-2A standings. They are now 5-6 with a game at league-leading Teague Tuesday.

    April 17, 2014

  • 4-18-14Roman.jpg CHS Soccer: Tigers boys and girls top off season with strong showing on All-District teams

    That tough and gutsy style of play sent both the boys and girls teams into the playoffs and on Thursday the Tigers were rewarded again for their fine seasons as two boys won special honors,four boys were named to the All-District first team and two girls earned first-team honors.
    Michael Roman, who did a little of everything — and did it well — was named the District 28-4A Utility Player of the Year, and sophomore defender Jesus Barreto was named the district's Newcomer of the Year.

    April 17, 2014 1 Photo