Notes: Davis odd man out in opener
Outfielder recalls great catches; Lowry now top NL lefty in ERA
ATLANTA -- Fresh off his impressive all-around effort Monday in Pittsburgh, Rajai Davis began Tuesday night's series opener against the Atlanta Braves on the bench.Manager Bruce Bochy sounded almost apologetic in explaining Davis' absence from the lineup. Bochy pointed out that left fielder Barry Bonds, the all-time home run leader, felt eager to start. Center fielder Dave Roberts, who hadn't started in five games while healing a bruised right knee, had recovered enough to start. Right fielder Randy Winn owned a .316 career average off Atlanta starter John Smoltz, including pair of singles off the Braves ace when the teams met July 23 in San Francisco. That left no room for Davis. Bochy also indicated that a rookie such as Davis might be susceptible to Smoltz's expertise. Then again, Bochy said of Davis, "He's handled everything else thrown at him." Davis met all challenges in the Giants' 10-3 victory in the second game of Monday's doubleheader. He doubled twice, scored twice, stole two bases and made an astounding catch in left-center field that ESPN's "SportsCenter" ranked second on its list of Top Plays of the Day (trailing only Richie Sexson's walk-off homer for Seattle). Bochy sounded as if he'd use Davis as a substitute at the earliest possible opportunity. "That's a pretty valuable commodity to have," Bochy said. Davis entered Tuesday 3-for-10 as a pinch-hitter. He also had stolen eight bases in nine tries, making him an ideal pinch-runner. "He's fearless," Bochy said. "He wants to go. He's not one who wants to wait around, and that's part of being a good basestealer. Even when they know you're going to go, you go." More Davis: Davis actually recalled two catches he made that he said were more difficult than the running, sliding grab he made on Pittsburgh's Freddy Sanchez. Davis rated a drive he snared in 2003 while playing for Class A Hickory as his best catch ever. "I didn't even look at the ball," said Davis, who was playing shallow and watched it soar over his head. "I just turned around and didn't look up until I got close to the warning track. It was over my head, but I jumped and caught it. I got pretty pumped up about that." Davis made a catch similar to Monday's while playing for Pittsburgh's Triple-A Indianapolis outpost last year, except he said he ran farther. "I was on the right side, so I had to cover more ground," he said. "I caught it close to the warning track in left-center." Noah's numbers: With his seven-inning, two-run outing Monday night, Noah Lowry improved his ERA to 3.28, the best among National League left-handers. A pair of AL lefties, Minnesota's Johan Santana (3.02) and Baltimore's Erik Bedard (3.11), had lower ERAs. Drying ink? Industry sources said that the Giants were close to reaching contract agreements with left-hander Madison Bumgarner and outfielder Wendell Fairley, their unsigned first-round selections from June's First-Year Player Draft. Teams have negotiating rights to their picks until 9 p.m. PT Wednesday. The Giants declined to confirm reports that they already had agreed to terms with Fairley, the 29th overall selection. Bumgarner was taken 10th overall. Farewell, Scooter: Giants broadcaster Jon Miller had fond memories of Yankees legend Phil Rizzuto, who died at age 89. Miller frequently crossed paths with Rizzuto, a Yankees broadcaster, during his play-by-play stints in Baltimore and Boston. "We had some laughs together," Miller said. Recalling Rizzuto's penchant for leaving games early, Miller cited a Spring Training broadcast of a Yankees exhibition in New Orleans. Rizzuto called an inning-ending double play. But it became apparent that the scoreboard must have gone blank, because Miller, listening in Miami, heard Rizzuto say, "And at the end of -- at the end of what?" John Gordon, Rizzuto's partner, informed him that it was the end of the seventh inning. Said Miller, "And Rizzuto said, 'Holy cow, I've gotta go.'" Miller also observed that Rizzuto let listeners know the truth, even when it was ugly. One instance was the famed confrontation at Fenway Park in 1978 when manager Billy Martin removed right fielder Reggie Jackson in the middle of an inning for poor defense. "Scooter reported it," Miller said. "He didn't mince words, even as it was in the process of happening." Coming up: The Giants and Braves continue their series Wednesday beginning at 4:35 p.m. PT. Ex-Brave Russ Ortiz will oppose ex-Oakland ace Tim Hudson.
Chris Haft is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.