Rajai Davis returns to Cleveland after World Series home run
CLEVELAND (AP) — Rajai Davis stepped into the batters’ box, spoke briefly with Indians catcher Yan Gomes and received yet another ovation at Progressive Field on Monday.
No one would blame him if his mind darted back to November when he provided one of the most dramatic moments in Cleveland history.
Davis, now a member of the Oakland Athletics, returned to Cleveland for the first time since Game 7 of the World Series when his two-run homer off Cubs relief ace Aroldis Chapman tied the game in the eighth inning.
Davis was presented with his American League championship ring prior to the game. He was given a standing ovation and tipped his cap to Cleveland’s dugout, where several of his former teammates stood and cheered.
“I’ve definitely been looking forward to this,” Davis said before the game. “We had a great group of guys with great personalities. It’s tough not to root for those guys now because I spent all of 2016 — from the first day of spring training through the very end — with them. You care about them.”
A video presentation that included the home run was shown on the scoreboard. Indians manager Terry Francona, team president Chris Antonetti and general manager Mike Chernoff made the presentation to Davis, who was cheered again when he flied out leading off the game.
Francona spoke about how much he enjoyed having Davis on his team for one season, but had a simple wish for his former player.
“I hope the crowd gives him a standing ovation, then I hope he strikes out four times,” Francona joked.
The crowd reaction following Davis’ homer caused the ballpark to shake as he dashed around the bases. Cleveland’s players stormed on the field to greet Davis after he crossed home plate.
Although the Indians lost in 10 innings, Davis’ stunning homer will always be remembered.
“I definitely have a story to tell for the rest of my life to my kids and my family,” he said while looking at the field from Oakland’s dugout before batting practice.
Indians fans have watched video of the home run several times. How many times has Davis seen it?
“I can’t even count, and if I told you I would be embarrassed,” he said.
Davis choked up on his bat against Chapman and fouled off several pitches before lining a 2-2 delivery that landed on the home run porch in left field.
“It’s the first time I’ve choked up that much since Little League, or maybe the minors, but those guys weren’t throwing 100 (mph) or whatever Chapman was like,” he said.
Davis says the bat is in a pile of memorabilia in his house. He plans on having it mounted and says the moment has turned his 2-year-old son into a baseball fan.
“He sleeps with his bat since then,” he said. “That’s something special we’ll always share.”
“Part of what’s fun about baseball is people seem to remember, they do that in other sports too, but people will talk about that for a long time,” Francona said.
Davis also had an RBI single in the 10th inning as the Indians fell a run short of winning their first World Series since 1948.
Davis led the AL with 43 stolen bases last season, batting .249 with 12 homers and 48 RBIs. He signed a one-year contract with Oakland in January and is hitting .206 in 37 games.