Cleveland – Is it the curse of Rajai Davis? Is that what’s spurred the Indians’ utter dominance of the Tigers this season?
“Oh no,” Davis said with his trademark chuckle before the game Sunday. “I don’t know about that. I’m just thankful for being on a winning ball club. Just trying to help us win.”
Davis, who spent 2014 and 2015 with the Tigers, has been an energizer for the Indians. On Saturday he stole his American League leading 39th and 40th bases of the season. At age 37, he is the oldest player to steal 40 in a season since 2011 when Ichiro Suzuki (also 37 at the time) did it.
“That definitely was a goal from the beginning of the season,” he said. “I’m just thankful I got the opportunity. (The Indians) gave me the opportunity to play my game. Be free, you know? Not many restrictions.”
That sounds like a shot at the Tigers, but it really isn’t. He was asked if he felt he didn’t get the same opportunity in Detroit.
“I’m not saying that,” he said. “It was a different team. But otherwise, I like what I bring. I think it causes more havoc. It’s going to get more guys better pitches to hit and that’s what’s been happening.”
The Tigers were and still are essentially a slugging, station-to-station team. Davis wasn’t encouraged to steal bases too often when the middle of the lineup hitters were in the batter's box. It’s a different environment in Cleveland.
“I get to play my game,” Davis said. “My game is hitting and getting on bases, stealing bases. That’s what I do. When you allow me to do that, I get better.”
He was asked if he left the Tigers on bitter terms?
“No, absolutely not,” he said. “Not anything bad. You know, it’s just we were going in different directions. Kind of worked out for me. I’m just thankful for the opportunity over here in Cleveland.”
Davis said he will be chirping at Tigers’ first coach Omar Vizquel Sunday. Vizquel was the last Indian player to steal 40 bases when he stole 42 in 1999.
“I got to play with Omar (in Toronto) and he was really one of my inspirations,” Davis said. “At his older age he was still playing and playing well. I said, ‘Man, you’re still having fun.’ I was like ‘Man, Omar you’re my inspiration.’
"I remember telling him that in Toronto, ‘I want to play like you when I get older.’ It’s been a lot of work but it’s definitely paying off.”