Khris Davis

Milwaukee Brewers' Khris Davis after hitting a two-run home run during an exhibition spring training baseball game against the Chicago White Sox Thursday, Feb. 28, 2013, in Phoenix.

MILWAUKEE — Khris Davis was raised to be humble and thankful, which explains the low-key celebration two weeks ago when the outfielder learned he had made the Milwaukee Brewers' 25-man Opening Day roster.

"There weren't any cartwheels being done," Rodney Davis said.

But the moment was special nonetheless and included some reflection on the journey: Rodney reminded his son of the day 17 years ago when, as a soft-spoken 8-year-old, he declared he was going to make it to the major leagues.

Rodney had first-hand knowledge on how difficult that climb to the top would be, but he encouraged Khris to dream big and work toward that goal.

Now that it has become reality, the father had some more advice for his son.

"I reminded him that this doesn't last forever," Rodney said, "and to make sure to enjoy it. So far, so good. I think he's been able to do that."

Much like the Brewers, who are 2-6 heading into Friday night's start of a three-game series in St. Louis, Khris Davis is off to a slow start this season. In six games, including two starts in place of injured left fielder Ryan Braun, Davis is 1-for-10 with five strikeouts.

The biggest highlights of Davis' brief career both came in the second inning of a 9-2 loss to the Arizona Diamondbacks last Saturday at Miller Park: a sliding catch in foul territory in the top half of the inning, and a double in the bottom half for his only hit to date.

Teammate Kyle Lohse played a prank on Davis after the game by presenting him with the ball used for his first major league hit. It was inscribed to "Chris Davis" and included the wrong date.

It was a welcome-to-the-big leagues moment for Davis, who took the practical joke in stride but was relieved when Brewers equipment manager Tony Migliaccio delivered the actual ball in a display case.

"I grew up around baseball players," Davis said, "so it's easy for me to fit in and just be comfortable."

That background in baseball has been a big bonus, Davis admits. Rodney Davis played in the Los Angeles Dodgers organization and now serves as a scout for the Dodgers. He also has served as a scout in the Diamondbacks organization.

When father and son attended games together, Rodney would encourage Khris to watch how some of best hitters in the game approached their at-bats. Two of the players Khris kept a particularly close eye on were Ken Griffey Jr. and Edgar Martinez.

Rodney Davis, who never advanced beyond the Class A level during his career with the Dodgers, spoke like a scout when he said his son has beaten the odds by advancing this far despite never being a "sure-fire prospect."

Along the way, Khris Davis has constantly had to answer questions about his size; at 5-foot-11, 200 pounds, he doesn't exactly have the appearance of a major league outfielder with a big bat.

Of course, looks can be deceiving.

"That's funny, because my favorite bible story is David and Goliath," he said. "I can relate to it."

After three seasons at Cal State Fullerton, Davis was drafted in the seventh round by the Brewers in 2009. He has climbed steadily through the minors since then, including a season with the Class A Wisconsin Timber Rattlers in 2010 in which he had 22 home runs and 72 RBIs in 128 games.

Davis' injury-shortened 2012 season included 44 games at Class AA Huntsville — he hit .383 — and 32 games at Class AAA Nashville. He headed back home to Arizona last fall convinced he'd begin the 2013 season in the minors.

But Davis was one of the Brewers' biggest surprises of spring training, hitting .262 with team-leading totals in home runs (six) and RBIs (16), and made the team as a fifth outfielder.

"I'm a bit of a realist when it comes to my son," Rodney Davis said. "I know that he works very hard and that he's talented. But I also know he's got a lot of things to do to improve."

Khris Davis' biggest weakness is his arm. Until he improves in that area, the only outfield position he can play is left. That position, of course, is occupied by Braun, one of the most successful players in the game.

So Davis will try to make his mark as a pinch-hitter, which isn't exactly an easy role for a young player with less than 1,200 at-bats under his belt as a professional.

"Just come to the ballpark ready every day," Khris said of his approach. "And just prepare. My confidence comes from preparation, so that's all I can do really."

It helps that Khris has a great support system that includes his fiancée Erika Kelly, his mother, Sofia, and his father, who watches with pride from afar.

"It's a bit surreal," Rodney Davis said. "My son is one of the guys on baseball cards that I used to grow up looking at when I was a kid. I've loved baseball for a long time. I'm very happy for him. I know how long he's pursued it and how long this mountain climb has been for him."


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