By Jordan Rogers
Starting pitcher Zach Davies is entering his eighth season in Major League Baseball.
Throughout his career, he has always played with National League clubs, so he regularly got the opportunity to return to the Valley.
But this season, Davies plays for the team he learned to support while growing up in Gilbert.
On March 24, the Diamondbacks and Davies agreed on a one-year, $1.75 million deal.
“I’ve been in the National League for my entire Major League career, so I’ve gotten to play against the Diamondbacks every year,” Davies said.
“I’ve gotten to come home pretty much every year, but extended time and playing with ‘Diamondbacks’ on my chest is special to me. I grew up here so I’m happy to be home and get at least one year here.”
He was born in Puyallup, Washington, but moved to Gilbert in elementary school.
Davies attended Mesquite High School where he was drafted by the Baltimore Orioles in the 26th round of the 2011 MLB Draft.
Because he was born in the Seattle area, he grew up a Seattle Mariners fan, but found himself rooting for the Snakes as he grew up.
“As time went on and I got to watch Diamondbacks games and go to games here in Phoenix, I started to like the team and watch them consistently,” Davies said.
The contract he signed in the offseason is laden with incentives, meaning he can earn more money depending upon his play this season.
If all goes well, he could earn up to $4.5 million.
Coming off a down year in 2021 with the Chicago Cubs, Davies is more concerned with returning to form than he is earning the extra money.
“Just coming off of a down year last year, that’s more of what I go out with is something to prove and get back to the old me and just be consistent and start games and give the team a chance to win,” he said.
During the winter, Davies stayed ready to play during the offseason lockout. After taking his normal offseason break, he worked hard to get back into baseball shape and show that he would be ready to go the second a club came calling.
When the D-backs called, he only had time to make two starts during Spring Training. He didn’t skip a beat because he stayed in shape during the offseason.
“Everybody was on short time this spring,” Davies said.
“I got a couple of games in and was on the mound prior to (Spring Training). I felt that I was ready to start the season; I was ready to play. Everybody had a short spring so there are no excuses for me.
“I was working out and doing my thing until I signed. I prepared myself so when I got into camp, I was ready to throw to hitters and start my progression.”
Though baseball is focusing on high spin rate and throwing in the upper 90s, Davies is a pitcher who focuses on movement and command.
He uses his baseball IQ on the mound to gain an advantage over hitters. He reads hitters’ swings and their approach to figure out how to pitch to them.
“I’m more of a command and change of speeds guy,” Davies said.
“I’m not a big stuff guy; never have been. I think what has helped me stay in this game for as long as I have is just the command and the baseball smarts of trying to think as the hitter and know what their approach is. I try to add stuff to the repertoire, but I know what got me here. I know what I’m successful at and those are my adjustments.”
Davies plans to visit Mesquite High School every offseason to visit his former coaches who are still there. He throws on the field and works out where it all started.
“It’s cool to go back there and workout with my old coaches that are still there,” he said.
Entering the 2022 season for the Diamondbacks, Davies knew his role.
“I’m here to be consistent and in the rotation every five days and compete to give the team a chance to win,” he said. “Just to bridge that gap between starting the game and closing the game with this bullpen.”
For Davies, the walk-off home run on opening day was fun. He said believes this team is going to be competitive this season and he is looking forward to helping the team win games.
“This team is young, but there’s a lot of talent on it,” Davies said. “There are a lot of competitive guys here and it just feels like everyone is trying to change the culture here and try and compete for a long time. There’s definitely a drive there and that is what starts winning baseball.