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Davis still a hit, as a hitter

May 21, 2007|by BOB PARASILITI

Leonard Davis is a contradiction of terms.

He's neither here nor there, but he's everywhere.

He's the rock and the hard place, but nowhere in between.

That's because when he is playing for the Hagerstown Suns, Davis has his spot, but he doesn't have a position.

Sounds confusing, but it isn't. Davis is one of those guys who has a bat that keeps him in the Suns lineup, but there is the problem of finding a spot for him to play in the field. He is labeled as a player who "will go as far as his bat will carry him."

That would be fine, but the Washington Nationals are a National League franchise ... so there is no designated hitter.

So Davis just hits, looking for a place to call home.

"I don't know where I'm at," Davis said. "Last year, I played third base. This year I'm at second ... I even went to first during spring training. All my life I had played outfield."

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Life changed when Davis became the Nationals' eighth-round selection in the 2004 draft. Suddenly, the lifelong outfielder became an infielder.

Then, he became a nomad, moving around the infield.

"I knew when I was drafted that (the Nationals) had (Ryan) Zimmerman at third," Davis said. "I knew there was no future there. I was moved over to second and I struggled at fielding. The game now is to be an all-around player, so I need to field. Right now, I'm struggling, so I've been a lot at DH."

Davis isn't the only player trying to get used to new spots. Chris Marrero - Washington's top pick in the 2006 draft - came in as a third baseman and is now working to find his bearings in the outfield.

Now, even Davis' natural position is overcrowded.

"I have to stay focused on it," Davis said. "I have to work on it. I have to take groundballs when I can and I have to focus on working the situations."

Davis keeps hitting to stay in the lineup while he tries to perfect his play at second while learning the philosophy of playing second. His average hovers around .300 while putting in the defensive work.

"I've been talking to our defensive coordinator a lot," Davis said. "I've been staying back on the ball too much and that's when I beat myself because I have been waiting for the ball to come to me. I have to move more and focus."

Davis has moved some. He played third base in the last week for a change, which gives him more value as the all-around player. But he isn't going to look a gift position in the field in the mouth.

"I like second base as my new position," said Davis. "It will just take a little time and a little work with (Suns coach Jerry Browne). I just need more work.

"I really don't know where I will end up. It is all up to (Suns manager Tommy Herr). If I'm at second, I'll give 100 percent. If I'm in the outfield, I'll give 100 percent."

One thing is for sure. As long as Leonard Davis has his bat, he will go down swinging.

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