Brewers thrilled to host Opening Day

Brewers welcome Opening Day to Miller

Doug Davis is not crazy about the circumstances, but he is not about to turn down his Opening Day assignment.

"It means everything to me," Davis said. "This might be the only time it happens in my career, and I want to definitely take it."

The left-handed, 30-year-old Davis is scheduled to start for the Brewers against Pittsburgh left-hander Oliver Perez on Monday afternoon at Miller Park. It marks the first time the Brewers have opened a season at home since 1995, when they beat the Chicago White Sox. Davis is the first Brewers left-hander since Rafael Roque in 1999 to start Opening Day. Prior to Roque, the last was Teddy Higuera in 1988.

The Brewers tabbed Davis because right-hander Ben Sheets will start the season on the disabled list, working his way back from a strained muscle in his upper back near the one he tore last August.

But Davis is no ugly stepchild. His 23-23 record over two full seasons with the Brewers is not indicative of the way Davis has pitched. He has worked at least 200 innings each of the last two seasons, posted a 3.62 ERA and notched 374 strikeouts. Forty-seven of his 69 outings have been so-called "quality starts" in which Davis pitched at least six innings and surrendered three or fewer earned runs.

In other words, he more often than not gives the team a chance to win, even if his personal win total does not reflect it.

"I'll take last year's numbers if we're in the playoff hunt," Davis said. "The bottom line is team wins, I've always said that."

In 2005, Davis was 11-11 with a 3.84 ERA in a career-best 35 starts. His 208 strikeouts led all Major League left-handers.

The road to his first career Opening Day start was a long one for Davis, who spent his first seven-plus professional seasons in the Texas organization before a whirlwind 2003.

He started that year at Texas' top Minor League affiliate before getting an April 26 start against the Yankees. The Rangers then tried to send him back to the Minors, but he was claimed off waivers by the Blue Jays, who later tried to demote him to be a situational lefty in the Triple-A bullpen.

"They were trying to make me something I'm not," said Davis, whose career numbers are actually much better against right-handed hitters than lefties.

The Brewers inked him to a Minor League deal and Davis made one start for Double-A Huntsville and five for Triple-A Indianapolis before getting the call to Milwaukee. In all, he dressed for six different teams that season.

Now he's starting on Opening Day.

"I'm going to have some adrenaline that I'm going to have to keep down so I'm not overthrowing," Davis said. "I'm going to try to keep a level head and keep my breathing normal."

Davis is entering the final season of the multi-year contract he signed with the Brewers in July 2004. He is eligible for one more year of salary arbitration this winter.

Pitching matchup
PIT: LHP Oliver Perez
• 7-5, 5.85 ERA in 2005
• 0-1, 7.20 ERA in 2005 vs. MIL
• 1-1, 5.73 ERA lifetime vs. MIL

MIL: LHP Doug Davis
• 11-11, 3.84 ERA in 2005
• 2-1, 4.06 ERA in 2005 vs. PIT
• 3-2, 3.77 ERA lifetime vs. PIT

  Brewers probable lineup
1.CFBrady Clark
2.SSJ.J. Hardy
3.RFGeoff Jenkins
4.LFCarlos Lee
5.1BPrince Fielder
6.2BRickie Weeks
7.3BBill Hall
8.CDamian Miller
9.PDoug Davis

On the Internet
 Gameday Audio
• Gameday
• Official game notes

On television
PIT: FSN Pittsburgh
MIL: FSN North

On radio

The forecasters are calling for a high of 49 degrees and showers. Sorry, diehard Opening Day veterans, but the roof will likely be closed.

On deck
• Tuesday: vs. Pirates, 7:05 p.m. CT
• Wednesday: vs. Pirates, 7:05 p.m. CT
• Friday: vs. Diamondbacks, 7:05 p.m. CT

Adam McCalvy is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.