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Perrotto: Henry Davis’ Injury Might be a Good Thing



Henry Davis, Pittsburgh Pirates

PITTSBURGH – Henry Davis has a bum thumb. That might turn out to be a good thing.

Davis has struggled for the most part since making his major-league debut on June 19 with the Pittsburgh Pirates. The 23-year-old right fielder hasn’t hit well, and his defense has been shaky.

It might not be fair to say he has been overmatched in his two-plus months in the bigs. However, it’s close.

Davis is hitting .213/.306/.339 with five home runs and three stolen bases. He is also hitless in his last 14 at-bats, but his struggles go back further as he is hitting just .125 in his last 24 games.

A catcher by trade, Davis has not looked comfortable in right field. He has four errors and minus-8 defensive runs saved.

The Pirates are apparently so wary of Davis’ defense behind the plate that he has caught just two innings in the big leagues. Management keeps saying Davis will eventually make some starts at catcher, but it still hasn’t happened.

This is not exactly what the Pirates planned when they used the first overall pick in the 2021 amateur draft to select him from the University of Louisville. They thought they were getting a power-hitting catcher with a strong arm.

General manager Ben Cherington and manager Derek Shelton continue to sing Davis’ praises in that see-no-evil way they have.

However, Davis readily acknowledged his frustration following the Pirates’ 11-1 victory over the St. Louis Cardinals on Monday night at PNC Park. Adding to the frustration, Davis was placed on the 10-day injured list prior to the game with what was nebulously termed a right hand strain.

So, perhaps the injury has affected Davis’ play?

“I’m not going to say anything about the results,” Davis said. “It’s definitely frustrating that I didn’t contribute.”

Give credit to Davis for being a stand-up guy and not making excuses.

The injury is to the thumb and has been bothering him for a few weeks. After seemingly starting to get better, the pain finally became too much over the weekend when the Pirates lost two of three games to the Twins in Minnesota and the medical staff decided to give him a break.

The Pirates and Davis are both hoping he will miss the minimum of 10 days or close to it.

“I’ll do whatever it takes every day to try to get back on the field and be contributing as soon as possible,” Davis said. “Whatever that entails, whatever they put together I’ll execute it to the best of my ability.

“It’s just a frustrating spot to be in. I feel like I did everything I could to avoid it but it’s just how it is right now. So, I’ve just got to move forward, handle it and continue to keep pushing.”

If ever there was a good time for an injury, though this could be it. Some days off should only do Davis some good, mentally as much or more than physically.

Davis can take extra batting practice and work on his swing once the swelling goes down in the thumb without worrying about tiring himself out before games. The Pirates could also send him on a rehab assignment to Triple-A Indianapolis, where his 10-game stint in June wasn’t long enough to prepare him for the major leagues.

The IL stint just might turn out to be a blessing.

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