Got a problem with your swing? Go talk to Wally and George!
Two former Brooklyn Cyclone skippers have been ordered by Mets management to fix the swing of superstar first baseman Ike Davis, who inexplicably lost his stroke this season after hitting 32 homers and driving in 90 runs last year for the big club.
Las Vegas 51’s manager Wally Backman, who led the Cyclones during the team’s historic 2010 campaign (historic, of course, because Backman was managing the squad), and hitting coach George Greer, a Cape Cod League Hall of Famer who was at the helm of the Brooklyns back in 2006, are the doctors tasked with diagnosing the problem with the first baseman’s swing and prescribing a cure that will get the first-round draft pick back to the big club.
And the braintrust of the Mets triple-A affiliate say that the former phenom’s problem, which is 80 percent mental, will get worked out the only way it can — in the batters box as the cleanup hitter of the 51’s.
“I’ll throw him right in the fire,” Backman told Mike Francesa during an interview on the radio station WFAN. “He’s going right in the four hole. We let him work through it.”
Davis, who made Major League Baseball’s All-Rookie Team in 2010 when he knocked 19 home runs and drove in 76 runs, has been struggling this season with a measly .161 batting average (meaning the 230-pounded truly isn’t hitting his weight), with just five home runs and 16 RBIs.
Backman said he and Greer will focus on returning Davis’ swing to the smooth stroke he used during his rookie campaign — something he’s veered away from in the years since.
“He’s made a lot of changes way too fast,” Backman said. “It is hard enough just to go up there and hit, but when you making changes to your stance and your hand position, it makes it tough on a player.”
Both Backman and Greer have made names for themselves by turning minor leaguers’ dreams into major league reality. Greer led Brooklyn to a 41–33, second-place finish in the McNamara Division, during an up-and-down season that began 0–7, and had many wondering if the manager would last the season. He did, but wasn’t brought back the following year.
By comparison, Backman’s season in Brooklyn was a dream that ended in a nightmare, as he led the 2010 Clones to a second-best-ever 51–24 record and a division title. But the team lost to the Jamestown Jammers in the finals, and the former Met second baseman, who won a World Series with the big club in 1986, was also not asked back to manage (although he was considered for a the job with the organization Major League team).
Davis batted .256 in 58 games with the Clones in 2008 when the team was skippered by Edgar “Don’t Call Me Edguardo” Alfonzo, and his batting average increased every year while in the minors until he debuted with the Mets in 2010.
Backman thinks the kid has what it takes to get back to the majors, but he’s not sure how long it will take.
“It may be two weeks,” Backman told the New York Times, “It could be a month.”
Along with Davis, there are several Cyclones alumni who have found their way into major league teams, most notably San Francisco Giants’ outfielder Angel Pagan, who has batted .281 throughout his seven years in the Show. Other alumni include Chicago White Sox pitcher Matt Lindstrom, who has compiled a 3.64 ERA throughout his career, Mets’ outfielder Lucas Duda, batting .253 on his career, and Minnesota Twins’ catcher Drew Butera.