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Regular play allows Davis to shine

Regular play allows Davis to shine

SAN FRANCISCO -- A's backup center fielder Rajai Davis was on a 1-for-23 skid before moving into the starting lineup June 3 for the injured Ryan Sweeney.

Apparently, all Davis needed was a little regular work to bust loose.

In his first nine starts in place of Sweeney, Davis hit. 367, going 11-for-30 with three doubles. His biggest hit during that stretch was a walk-off single Thursday against the Twins, giving the A's a 4-3 victory.

"I think last year I started a number of games in a row, and I was really hot," Davis said before Sunday's game against the Giants. "For me, it's definitely helpful to play more consistently. When you're not playing every day, you tend to press a little bit. You think too much. I think you've just got to take the pressure off yourself, just go out there and play and relax. That's when I get the best results."

Davis made his 12th consecutive start Sunday, facing his former Giants team for the third straight day. He had at least one hit in eight of his first nine starts before going hitless in back-to-back games against the Giants.

Davis came to the Giants in July 2007 when the Pirates traded him in a Deadline deal. He appeared in 51 games with the Giants that season, hitting .282 with 17 stolen bases, nine doubles, seven RBIs and 26 runs scored. Not bad.

But the Giants acquired free-agent center fielder Aaron Rowand that offseason, and they waived Davis early in the 2008 season. On April 23, the A's claimed him. He appeared in 101 games for the A's last season, hitting .260 with 25 steals, 19 RBIs and 28 runs scored.

"When you don't play a guy enough, you tend to forget what he can really do," Davis said. "And they had their guy that they wanted. That's why they signed him, because that's who they wanted. It worked out for both of us. They got their guy, and I got a better opportunity to play over here."

It took Sweeney's knee injury for Davis to get a chance to play regularly this year. He's taken full advantage of his chance, swinging a hot bat and flashing his speed in the outfield and on the basepaths.

"You tend to open up eyes," Davis said. "[They] tend to realize that, 'Yeah, this guy can play.' It's a great opportunity here. And it's just nice to be able to play and contribute and help us win."

Eric Gilmore is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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