Davis tabbed everyday center fielder

Davis tabbed everyday center fielder

OAKLAND -- Given that the A's said Eric Patterson would be their everyday center fielder in the wake of the July 24 trade that sent Matt Holliday to St. Louis, perhaps manager Bob Geren's declaration that Rajai Davis is the new everyday center fielder should be taken with a grain of salt.

After all, Patterson got all of seven starts in Oakland's 12 games after the Holliday trade before being optioned to Triple-A Sacramento on Wednesday afternoon, and thanks in part of an injury by left fielder Scott Hairston, only four of the seven starts came in center.

Davis, however, appears to have a much more realistic shot at sticking as the man in the middle of the outfield -- for a variety of reasons.

Unlike Patterson, who has made 24 of his 45 career big league starts at second base and 24 in left field, Davis is a proven Major Leaguer and a true center fielder; 125 of his 132 career big league starts have been there, as well as 205 of his 224 big league appearances.

Oh, and going into Thursday's finale of a four-game series against the visiting Rangers at Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum, he's hotter than the faux leather seats in an uncovered black Camaro after seven hours in the Arizona sun.

Davis, who won Monday's series opener with a pinch-hit, three-run, walk-off triple, entered Wednesday's game against the visiting Rangers batting .379 with three doubles, a triple and 12 RBIs over his previous nine games, and he was batting .327 over his past 44.

Many of those numbers jumped in the first three innings Wednesday, when Davis played a huge hand in Oakland's first three runs.

After a single to right field with one out in the first inning, he stole his 18th base in 24 attempts, took third when he lured pitcher Vicente Padilla into an errant pickoff throw to second, and trotted home on Hairston's home run to left field.

Two innings later, Davis drilled a leadoff double to left, took third on a passed ball and scored on a Hairston sacrifice fly.

"Rajai has done a good job," Geren said. "He deserves to play."

Acquired on the waiver wire from the Giants early last season, Davis batted .260 with 25 stolen bases in 31 attempts over 101 games, but his strikeouts-to-walks ratio of 34-to-25 left much to be desire for a player with what scouts call "plus-plus" speed.

Thus, a concerted effort has been put into being more selective at the plate. It's taken a while to take hold -- Davis batted .146 in his first 26 games -- but clearly is paying off these days.

"His strike zone is a lot better than in the past," Geren said. "He's got a nice routine going. He's always one of the first guys here every day, and he takes it very seriously, day in and day out."

Told the Geren had anointed him an everyday player, Davis, who has mostly been a role player since breaking into the bigs with the Pirates in 2006, broke into a confident smile.

"That's nice to hear; I've never heard that before," he said. "Things are working out well for me right now."

Pitching matchup
OAK: RHP Trevor Cahill (6-10, 5.01 ERA)
Cahill's struggles continued on Saturday night. He surrendered six runs on eight hits (two home runs) and four walks in 5 1/3 innings. Cahill is 1-5 with an 8.31 ERA in his past seven starts. The rookie had a 2.51 ERA over 43 1/3 innings in his seven starts prior. He's given up at least one home run in his last eight starts, pushing his season total to 23. Cahill held Texas to one run in seven innings on May 7.

TEX: RHP Tommy Hunter (3-2, 2.63 ERA)
Hunter allowed five runs over five innings against the Mariners on Saturday. It was the most runs he allowed this season. He had allowed five runs in his previous five starts. Over his last five games, Hunter is 3-1. He has made one career start against the Athletics, allowing three earned runs over 5 1/3 innings (5.06 ERA) and receiving the no-decision. On the road in his career, Hunter is 0-1 with a 10.57 ERA over 7 2/3 innings in two starts.

Dribblers ...
Hairston is expected to get Thursday's game off. That means Ryan Sweeney will move from right field to left, and Jack Cust will start in right. Nomar Garciaparra likely will be the designated hitter. ... Patterson will get another chance to play in the Majors this season, but he can't come back from Sacramento for at least 10 days unless it's to replace a player who gets moved to the disabled list. ... Geren again said he had nothing to report regarding right-hander Justin Duchscherer, who was scratched from his scheduled Minor League rehab start last Friday for "non-baseball related" reasons.

 Buy tickets now to catch the game in person.

On the Internet
 Gameday Audio
•  Gameday
•  Official game notes

On television

On radio
• KTRB 860, KDYA 1190 (Español)

Up next
• Friday: Athletics (Vin Mazzaro, 2-8, 5.73) at Royals (Brian Bannister, 7-7, 3.59), 5:10 p.m. PT
• Saturday: Athletics (Brett Anderson, 6-8, 4.20) at Royals (Zack Greinke, 10-7, 2.36), 4:10 p.m. PT
• Sunday: Athletics (Gio Gonzalez, 3-2, 6.31) at Royals (Luke Hochevar, 6-4, 5.40), 11:10 a.m. PT

Mychael Urban is a national writer for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.