CHICAGO A lot of pitchers produced better results in their first start of the season than Doug Davis.
But no one was more impressive. Nor did anyone deliver an outing that will be remembered as long as the Arizona left-hander.
Only one week after being diagnosed with thyroid cancer, Davis took his turn in the Diamondbacks' rotation Thursday in Cincinnati. He didn't make it through the fourth inning, taking the loss in a game that Reds rookie Johnny Cueto dominated, but the result was almost beside the point.
Though Davis had more important things to focus on, he wanted to pitch. Arizona's management wanted him to pitch, so he did. He apparently will make one more start before having surgery, which will sideline him one or two months, at the least.
"He's strong, man," Diamondbacks second baseman Orlando Hudson said. "Strong."
Davis isn't taking the Curt Schilling approach to his injury that is, going on every national sports show that will have him and blogging from the dugout in between innings about his situation.
"He tries to downplay it and keep everything as normal as he can," Diamondbacks manager Bob Melvin said. "We feel it. We know what he is going through and has to go through. You have to tip your hat."
Davis, 32, is a nine-year veteran with a 75-76 record. He has been cast aside twice by clubs that have missed him (Texas and Cincinnati) and is easily underestimated.
When Randy Johnson was sidelined with back problems last season and Livan Hernandez showed his age, Davis stepped up to give Arizona 13 very important victories. Davis' standing as the No. 2 starter was one reason the Cubs were confident entering the playoff series last October. Yet Davis outpitched Ted Lilly, getting a lead to the Diamondbacks' deep bullpen.
Melvin wouldn't have been surprised if Davis did that again in his 2008 debut though it was not to be.
You would think a guy facing cancer surgery might bring that up in his postgame interview. But here's what Davis told reporters in Cincinnati:
"I had no rhythm out there whatsoever. I was falling behind and just couldn't find a release point."
Excuses? Those are for the weak, not Davis.
This is a big week for him. He has a date with the Los Angeles Dodgers on Tuesday and the surgeons on Thursday.
His disease doesn't stand a chance.