When Rajai Davis joined the Cleveland Indians this past offseason, he had a pretty good idea of what he had signed up for. After all, he had spent the previous two seasons with Detroit.
“Coming over here, just knowing the AL Central and playing against the Indians for the last couple of years, you knew they had a good team,” Davis said on CBS Sports Radio’s The Doug Gottlieb Show. “They (already had) the central parts of what they needed, and they obviously went out and got some other missing pieces that would definitely fit in with me, the addition of Mike Napoli, and then you have all these other guys that (had) really good years. But coming over, this is a perfect fit.”
Still, could Davis have predicted that the Indians would win 94 games – the fourth-most in baseball – and advance to the ALCS?
“This is what you hope for,” the 35-year-old said. “To be able to execute that, that’s amazing. We actually had a lot of guys step up and have really good years. I know over six guys had career highs in home runs. Even Napoli had career highs in RBIs and home runs. So a lot of things worked out for us, and that’s a statement to the personnel we have over here, the team chemistry we have the coaches that we have. It’s really a compliment to them.”
Terry Francona has been just what the doctor ordered for Cleveland. He won two World Series titles with Boston and he’s led the Indians to four consecutive winning seasons. Now he has the Indians back in the ALCS for the first time since 2007 and just four wins away from their first World Series appearance since 1997.
“He gets it,” Davis said. “He understands what it’s like to be a player. He does a good job of getting (players involved and getting them in the flow of the game), which is huge.”
Francona, ironically enough, managed the Red Sox when they beat the Indians in the 2007 ALCS – a seven-game thriller in which the Indians squandered a 3-1 series lead and were outscored 30-5 in Games 5-7.
Even though the Indians swept the Red Sox in this year’s ALDS, it seemed that much of the post-series focus was on David Ortiz’s retirement.
Davis and his teammates didn’t mind.
“Well, I don’t think our focus was how much attention (we got),” he said. “I think our focus is mainly on winning, and we want to keep on continuing to win. If we are the last team standing, then guess what? They have no choice but to recognize what we’ve done.”
Game 1 of the ACLS is Friday in Cleveland at 8 p.m. ET.