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Though Not 100%, Henry Davis Hoping to Finish Season on Good Note



Henry Davis, Pittsburgh Pirates

PITTSBURGH — Henry Davis’ rookie campaign for the Pittsburgh Pirates has not gone the way he would have hoped.

A strong start to his career, which included becoming the first player to hit two home runs in the same game against Los Angeles Angels superstar Shohei Ohtani, quickly faded.

As a first-time major league player gets more experience at the game’s highest level, opposing teams make adjustments. It’s a player’s job to adjust back.

It’s rare to see a prospect receive a promotion start hot out of the gate and be able to sustain it.

Davis was no exception. After cruising through the minor leagues, Davis had his share of struggles with the Pirates down the stretch and was hitting .213/.306/.339 through his first 51 games.

Before Davis had a real opportunity to to try and right his ship, he landed on the injured list with a right hand strain on Aug. 21.

Even though Davis is not quite out of the woods from the injury, the Pirates deemed him ready to return to action and reinstated him from the IL on Friday.

“He did a nice job on his rehab, which I think was important,” manager Derek Shelton said. “We wanted to go out and test it and make sure. Obviously he’s dealing with something in his hand so it’s not going to be 100 percent from here on out. So I think we will monitor what his volume is and what he plays just to make sure that he can finish the season strong and finish the season healthy, but it’s nice to have him back.”

Dealing with injuries and managing pain tolerance is commonplace in professional sports, and Davis is handling his current situation as a learning opportunity.

“It’s actually been pretty frustrating, but it’s a good learning experience because there are times where something similar to this, I don’t think anybody’s dragging me out of the lineup,” Davis said. “So just learning and really, gaining as much experience as I can with something like this and learning how to compete with it. I’ll do my best whatever it is, whether that’s a different response in the training room or your workday looking a little different. Whatever I have to do to help the team.”

Davis is a gamer. Based on everyone who has talked about him, if it was up to Davis, he would be in the lineup every night.

The 23-year-old was inserted back into the Pirates’ lineup for Saturday’s game against the New York Yankees as the designated hitter, but struggled. He finished the night 0 for 3 with three strikeouts. Regardless, it was good for him to be back in the lineup.

Finally back, Davis feels that the missed time will be beneficial for him in the long-run.

“It’s a challenge and I think I’ll learn from it and it’ll make me a better player and teammate going forward. Just finding ways to help your guys when you’re not here. I’ll do whatever I can.”

It was no sure thing that Davis would be able to come back by the end of the season.

After the Pirates fell to the Yankees on Saturday, there are only 13 games remaining on the 2023 schedule.

Getting Davis back is important for the Pirates, both for the short-term and beyond this year. It’s even more important for him.

“Obviously, it was a goal (to get back this season). I didn’t know if I’d be able to when we first got the diagnosis,” he said. “I worked really hard and want to thank the training staff and the people supporting me to get to play.”

Even though time is running out on the Pirates’ season, Davis will have an opportunity to end the season on a good note.

That’s a positive development for what could have been a disappointing end to his first big league season.

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