The Washington Times - June 2, 2013, 09:37AM

ATLANTA — There was a time that Erik Davis wondered if this type of phone call would ever come. Then he got it twice in a two-week span. 

While the Washington Nationals were in San Francisco, pondering a roster move to bolster a bullpen that had been required to pitch all nine innings in Ross Detwiler’s place on May 20, Nationals officials called Davis and told him he was going to be promoted. His mind raced with the good news, particularly because San Francisco is where he’s from.


Then things changed. Ryan Mattheus revealed to the team that he’d broken his hand the day before. The Nationals decided to change course. They called up Fernando Abad and Yunesky Maya instead. 

“It was kind of tough,” Davis said of the call back, 20 minutes later. “But it’s all worth it now. I’m certainly not the first or the last person that’s going to happen to. Just to be in the discussion, that makes me very proud, because a couple of years ago, I’m sure I was very, very low in the Nationals’ thoughts.”

Davis spoke from the hallway outside the visitors’ clubhouse at Turner Field. He flew in from Providence Saturday morning and took in his new surroundings. When Triple-A Syracuse was in extra innings the night before, Davis was the only man left in the bullpen — and they sent a position player down just in case. Davis, who hadn’t pitched in four days, figured then that something was up.

Turner Field seemed a long way from where he was when the Nationals acquired the 26-year-old Stanford product on the eve of the 2011 season.

The Nationals got Davis from the Padres for infielder Alberto Gonzalez just before the 2011 season began. They sent him to Double-A Harrisbug, where he pitched with a torn ligament in his knee and went 5-12 with a 5.30 ERA as a starter. After surgery, and a conversion to a reliever, the results have been much different.

“That was really the first time I’ve ever experienced failure on a consistent basis in baseball,” Davis said. “I didn’t really handle it the best way. And just being in a new organization was tough. But after the season, going through the rehab really made me realize how much I was willing to put forward to give this game one last shot.

“I think last year it kind of helped me find that passion again. Coming in relieving, I think the way I pitch, I’m really aggressive toward hitters. I have a really good changeup and I’ll use it a lot. That’s just something that a lot of relievers don’t have. You see a guy like (Tyler Clippard), what he does, I try to watch and pay attention to what he does and I think guys like that, who go against the mold of a typical reliever you’ll see, a power guy with a slider, you see a lot of those guys but you don’t really see a lot of guys with a changeup. I’m just trying to carve my own niche.”

Davis is a great story in perseverance. In college, while pitching in the Cape Cod League, Davis was struck in the face with a line drive in a scary scene. He required multiple surgeries to repair facial fractures. A few months later, he was back on the mound.

“This is the goal for anybody,” he said. “Everybody’s got their own story. Mine’s no more special than anybody else’s, but for me personally this is just a huge accomplishment. While I am here now, I want to do what I can to stay here. If not in the immediate future at least to set a nice groundwork to get my opportunity here.”