Las Vegas Reliever Davis Is Leaving Nothing to Chance


Pitcher Rick Davis discovered you can’t take chances with your future, especially when you are playing for high stakes in Las Vegas.

Davis, a former Cal State Dominguez Hills standout, is a reliever for the Las Vegas Stars, the San Diego Padres’ triple-A affiliate in the Pacific Coast League. Off to a fast start, the right-hander was a candidate to be called up to the major leagues until he injured his shoulder.

Padre reliever Randy Myers was struggling. Davis, on the other hand, had nine saves in the Stars’ first 32 games, including saves in four consecutive games. The Padres needed another reliever, but Davis wasn’t ready. Because of tendinitis in his right shoulder, he had trouble recovering from shoulder pain between relief appearances.


“Everything was working well for me,” Davis said. “My knuckle-curveball, my changeup. I was throwing everything for strikes. But my arm was getting sore and I tried to see if I could throw through it. That was probably a mistake. But it would have been a bigger mistake if I kept pitching and didn’t say anything.”

Davis, who first felt the pain in 1990, went on the 15-day disabled list June 26. He pitched an inning July 11, but his shoulder still felt sore and he returned to the disabled list. In 33 appearances, Davis had a 3-3 record with a 3.22 earned-run average. He struck out 31 and walked nine in 44 2/3 innings.

“I always keep the mentality that I’ll get called up,” Davis said. “I’ve moved up every year. I don’t feel any pressure to prove myself. I’m very happy with the organization.”

Davis was a starting pitcher at Dominguez and set a California Collegiate Athletic Assn. record with 171 strikeouts in a season. The Padres selected him in the seventh round of the June, 1989, draft. He began his professional career by leading the Northwest League in ERA (1.35), strikeouts (106) and shutouts (two) in 1989.

Despite his early success as a starter, Davis quickly discovered it was difficult to strike out batters with an average fastball and a knuckle-curve. After meeting with former Padre director of scouting Randy Smith, Davis agreed to move to the bullpen last season and earned 13 saves at double-A Wichita, Tex.

“I don’t have a 90 mile-per-hour fastball, so it’s harder for me to go through a lineup three or four times,” Davis said. “The hitters get smarter the higher you move up in the minors, and they remember things. (Hitters) sit back and make you challenge them with a fastball.”


As a reliever, Davis doesn’t have the luxury to analyze each of his games. If he has a bad game, he must shake it off and try again.

“I think the biggest key to being a successful reliever is that you can’t let any outing get you up or down,” Davis said. “You go to the bullpen, get loose and be ready to throw. You never know when they’ll need you.”

While Davis is down waiting for his shoulder to heal, he won’t be spending his free time in Vegas casinos. He lives in Upland with his new wife, Gina, and commutes to Stars’ home games.

“Vegas is a great city, but I don’t want to get caught up in the gambling,” Davis said. “I hear too many stories about opposing players losing their money.”


Albany-Colonie first baseman Don Sparks (Loyola Marymount) has a .321 batting average to rank second in the double-A Eastern League. . . Greensboro first baseman Tate Seefried (El Segundo) had a 16-game hitting streak end July 19 against Gastonia. Seefried had hit safely in 17 of 18 games, with a .324 average, four home runs and 16 runs batted in. . . Orlando second baseman Mica Lewis (Westchester) went 15 for 26 during a seven-game hitting streak. . . Stockton shortstop Denny Hocking (West Torrance) batted .452 with four doubles, a home run, nine runs batted in and two stolen bases in seven games. He was selected the California League hitter of the week by Howe News Sports Data.

Springfield second baseman Darrel Deak (Loyola Marymount) had four home runs and nine RBIs during a six-game hitting streak. . . Edmonton outfielder Billy Beane (Loyola Marymount) went four for six with a double and two RBIs during the Trappers’ 5-4 victory over Portland in 14 innings July 21. Bean played in the Dodgers’ farm system last year. . . Vancouver outfielder Tracy Jones (Lawndale) will have surgery on his right knee and may be lost for the season. Jones batted .283 with a home run and 23 RBI in 66 games.