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Davis eager to carry big league load

Davis eager to carry big league load

PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. -- Having made the step-by-step progression through the Rays' farm system, Wade Davis has the foundation to be a Major League horse.

"He's in a position in our minds to put 200-plus innings together," said Andrew Friedman, Tampa Bay's executive vice president of baseball operations. "He's extremely talented. He worked his way through our system very methodically, and when he got to the Major League level in September, he pitched extremely well."

Two hundred innings is the blue-collar badge of courage for starting pitchers. Davis smiled when asked if he would be comfortable throwing 200 innings.

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"I'll throw 300 if I have to, whatever I have to do," Davis said. "I feel comfortable pitching eight months, nine months in a row. I'm in shape for it."

Davis didn't always appreciate the Rays' handling of his progression, but he does now.

"There was one point, when I first got to Double-A, I thought I was ready for the big leagues," Davis said. "But when I got to Triple-A, I realized there were some things I needed to get better at.

"There are a lot of the things you can't get better at unless you're in the big leagues -- at least that's what I think. Now I'm happy the way I did it, had success and failure at a lot of different levels. I think it's going to help me out in the long run."

The Lake Wales, Fla., native made his Major League debut on Sept. 6 against Detroit, two days before his 24th birthday, and got a no-decision in a 5-3 Rays loss that saw the right-hander allow one run on three hits while walking one and striking out nine. His first win came in Baltimore in his third start when he tossed a complete-game four-hit shutout. But to the Tampa Bay brass, neither of those performances were the most impressive thing about the steely-eyed youngster.

"One of the things we talked about with Wade Davis wasn't the good starts he had, rather the bad start he had in Boston," said Friedman, noting the manner in which he bounced back from a defeat that saw him get roughed up for eight earned runs on six hits in 2 2/3 innings at Fenway Park. "The way he bounced back from that and the way that he processed that start and focused on the process of it and how he could get better. It was a very unusual feel for the game at the Major League level for such a young guy."

In hindsight, Davis believes he gave the Red Sox too much credit going into the start, which was rain delayed by more than two hours. Excluding his outing in Boston, Davis pitched to a 1.87 ERA over his other five outings.

"I know they're a good team and they've always been a good team, but I probably gave them way too much credit and I wasn't sure what to expect in Boston," Davis said. "I think I just made it too much of a situation in my mind. Now I really do want to face them again, because they got me in Spring Training last year, too."

Bill Chastain is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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