Sacramento River Cats

Area Beat: Elk Grove’s Davis earns league honor for big week

J.D. Davis (Elk Grove) admits he tried to do too much early in his first minor-league season for the Houston Astros, the team that selected him in the third round of the June draft and rewarded him with a $748,600 signing bonus.

After struggling early, though, he’s made an adjustment and it’s paying off.

Davis, a third baseman for Tri-City, was named the New York-Penn League’s Player of the Week after hitting .421 (8 for 19) with two doubles, two home runs, 11 RBIs, seven runs, five walks and a stolen base in the week ending July 6. In a three-game series against the Lowell Spinners, Davis went 6 for 12 with two home runs and 10 RBIs.

“I’m feeling pretty comfortable right now,” Davis, 21, told “I’m slowing things down, getting back to my routine and staying within myself like I did in college. I’m imagining there are no runners on and just trying to get a pitch out over the plate that I can square up. I was just trying to do too much earlier in the season.”

The 6-foot-3, 215-pounder put up strong numbers as a junior for Cal State Fullerton, hitting .338 with six homers, 43 RBIs, a .419 on-base percentage and a .523 slugging percentage.

Now in a groove, Davis is just trying to keep an even keel.

“I’m just trying to keep in the back of my mind what I’m doing right now,” he told “In baseball, I’m going to fail. So later on down the road, when I’m not feeling comfortable, I’ll try to go back to it.”

Through his first 25 games as a professional, Davis had a .289 average with six doubles, a triple, four homers, 19 RBIs and an on-base percentage of .409 and slugging percentage of .511. He’s also had 15 walks.

Photo Gallery: Sacramento area players in AAA or MLB

Darling calling it a career

Umpire Gary Darling (Burbank, Cosumnes River) has decided to retire after a 28-year major-league career that included two World Series.

Darling, 56, has been on the umpiring disabled list this season.

He joined the National League staff in 1988 and became a crew chief following the 2003 season. He worked two World Series (2003, 2010) and two All-Star Games (1993, 2003)

Darling is president of Umps Care, an MLB professional umpire’s charity.

Huge night for Ty Kelly

Tacoma second baseman Ty Kelly (UC Davis) had a career night in the Rainiers’ 18-2 rout of the Salt Lake Bees on Thursday, going 3 for 4 with two home runs – one a grand slam – seven RBIs, four runs and two walks.

“I was fortunate to get up in situations with a lot of guys on base, so I just tried to keep it simple in those situations,” the switch-hitting Kelly told “When I’m at my best is when I’m able to hit the ball with power to opposite field. I like to start out going opposite field, so that I can cover everything.”

That at-bat made the rest of the night a bit easier for Kelly.

“I took a good swing, and when you take a good swing, it kind of relaxes you for the at-bats later,” he said. “It lets you know you can let the ball get deeper.”

Independent update

A number of players with area ties are in the independent leagues.

• American Association: Amarillo, pitcher Dayne Quist (UC Davis); Kansas City, pitcher Kyle Devore (Pleasant Grove, Sacramento City); Grand Prairie, infielder Brandon Pinckney (Elk Grove, Sacramento City); St. Paul, infielder Joe Bonfe (Sierra) and catcher Dwight Childs (Elk Grove, Cosumnes River); Sioux City, catcher Todd Jennings (Casa Roble)

• Atlantic League: Sugar Land, pitcher Steve Hammond (Sacramento City)

• Frontier League: Normal, pitcher Corey MacDonald (Davis, Cosumnes River); Evansville, outfielders J.R. Higley (Jesuit, Sacramento City) and Chris Elder (Sacramento City); Traverse City, batting coach Matt Pulley (Woodland)

• Pacific Association: Solano, shortstop Steve Rinaudo (Casa Roble, American River); Pittsburg, catcher Tyler Eppler (American River), first baseman Tony Torcato (Woodland), outfielder Justin James (McClatchy, Sacramento City) and shortstop Mark Leacox (El Camino, American River)