DENVER — Ike Davis said it’s oversimplifying things a bit to say he chose the Rangers over the Yankees in the offseason.
The first baseman, who made his Yankees debut here Tuesday night in the eighth inning and went 1-for-2 with an RBI after agreeing to a deal last Sunday, bluntly stated Tuesday that physically he didn’t think he was up to it.
“I didn’t know how I was going to be and I didn’t want to go to Florida [for spring training] and not really know how my hip was going to [be],” Davis said before the Yankees’ game against the Rockies. “It just made sense to stay in Arizona where I was rehabbing. I could have flown out there [Florida] and if it just didn’t work out, it would have been a waste of time for everybody.”
Davis had surgery on his left hip last Aug. 28 while a member of the A’s, who train in Arizona. He wound up signing a minor-league deal with the Rangers in the offseason. They also train in Arizona (Davis also went to high school in Arizona, and college as well at Arizona State).
Davis, 29, said the hip issues dated back to his years with the Mets — he played in Flushing from 2010 until June 2014 when he was dealt to the Pirates — but that now he’s completely healthy.
The Yankees’ situation — having lost four first basemen to injuries — presented an offer to Davis, who had been playing with Triple-A Round Rock in the Rangers’ system. It was one that he couldn’t refuse.
“Honestly, the whole year, even in the offseason I thought this was probably the smartest place to sign if I felt like I was healthy and could compete for a job,” said Davis, whose big-league career peaked in 2012 when he hit 32 homers and had 90 RBIs. “But at the point when we were talking, it didn’t feel like I could really compete . . . After a month I felt like I could really play again. As soon as [the Yankees] had four guys go down, I realized there’s probably an opportunity to help out.”
The Yankees lost Greg Bird and Dustin Ackley to season-ending injuries, Chris Parmelee for at least a month and Mark Teixeira for an indeterminate amount of time. Teixeira, on the disabled list with a cartilage tear in his right knee, was slated to do tee-and-toss drills Tuesday and hopes to be in rehab games within three weeks, though it’s too early in the process to say whether that’s realistic.
The signing of Davis, who also had a right knee sprain in the spring that he said has healed, does not mean the sudden end of fan-favorite Rob Refsnyder. The utility man started Tuesday night at first and Joe Girardi said while Davis is slated to start Wednesday, the 25-year-old Refsnyder will likely see some time against lefthanded starters.
Still, Refsnyder is a neophyte at a position Davis has made 516 career starts at, compared to eight, counting Tuesday night, for the prospect.
“Obviously, he understands the position,” Girardi said of Davis. “And he’s a lefthanded bat for us, and Ike, he’s played in New York, so he understands that part of it. It was someone we were interested in before so hopefully it’s a good fit.”
Davis, whose father, Ron, pitched for the Yankees from 1978-81, said despite the way things ended for him with the Mets, his best experience in the majors has been in New York.
“I loved it,” Davis said. “It was tough, obviously, because I was going through some really tough times as a baseball player. Being so young and wanting to do so well, it was tough. But thinking back . . . I had my best seasons living and enjoying playing, it was in New York. So I’m excited to come back. This organization, you can’t say enough about it. It’s going to be awesome.”