By Joe Stiglich
Tuesday, February 17th, 2009 at 6:28 pm in Spring Training.
Thought I’d give you a quick note that didn’t make its way into my stories for tomorrow. Center fielder Rajai Davis arrived at A’s camp today, having spent much of his offseason playing in the Venezuelan Winter League. With all the talk surrounding Ryan Sweeney’s switch to center field, Davis hasn’t been written about much. But he’s deep in the A’s thoughts after showing his great speed on the bases and in the outfield last season. His tools probably suit him best in a reserve role, and I could see him being really effective drawing the occasional start, or being used as a pinch runner or defensive replacement. Assuming the A’s want five outfielders, I see them keeping Matt Holliday, Sweeney, Jack Cust and Travis Buck. Then I would think Davis gets the nod over Chris Denorfia because his speed is just too valuable. Aaron Cunningham could have a say here with a great camp, but he could benefit from more seasoning. Obviously it’s very early to piece together the roster, and much can change once the Cactus League begins, but that’s how I see things now.
While in Venezuela, Davis wanted to improve the mental part of his game, trying to avoid the concentration lapses that he said happen at times. His focus must have been put to the test playing in the Venezuelan heat. “Just going (outside) in jeans and a T-shirt, it feels like you’re in front of a heater,” he said. A’s manager Bob Geren said the most important thing in winter ball was for Davis to get regular playing time. “When you’re a fourth or fifth outfielder, the best thing about going down there is just to get at-bats. There’s nothing specific he needed to work on.”