The reviews that precede Glenn Davis into Baltimore fall neatly under the "rave" category. By reputation, the newest Oriole is both a gentleman and a fence-bender. By implication, he is a man as active in his community as he is in the batter's box.
The welcoming committee started lining up on 33rd Street yesterday with the news the Orioles had acquired power-hitting first baseman Glenn Davis from the Houston Astros. The cost was steep -- three promising young players -- and not without risk, with Davis eligible for free agency after this season. But the early returns were all positive.
"He gives us the offensive threat we've been lacking the last two years," said Orioles coach Johnny Oates.
"He's a Jack Clark [type player]," said Hall of Fame pitcher Jim Palmer. "And he probably is a better hitter than Clark."
"A class act," said ace reliever Gregg Olson. "Very involved in the community. He's a genuine power hitter. For the numbers he put up in the Astrodome, you've got to respect the guy."
In a winter that began slowly, the Orioles now have added Dwight Evans and Davis -- and considerable sock -- to their lineup.
"Bringing in Glenn, you bring in a power hitter who's already established himself in the league," Olson said. "Dwight has power and is very well known for being a clutch hitter. I like our lineup quite a bit."
Exactly where Davis will play is an issue that won't be decided until spring training. First base has attracted a crowd this offseason, where the Orioles have incumbent Randy Milligan, newcomer Evans and holdovers David Segui and Sam Horn. Oates, who saw Davis in the National League when he coached with the Chicago Cubs, thinks Davis and Milligan are comparable fielders.
"Glenn has good hands and range like Randy," Oates said. "And he's a better thrower than [Steve] Garvey was.
"The appearance you get being on the other side of the field is that he's a quiet individual. He comes to play and he comes to play hard. He appears to be from the old school."
Milligan said he felt a "sense of relief" yesterday because his name had circulated in the trade rumors that surrounded Davis. "I didn't want to go to Houston," he said. "I like it here. I like Baltimore. To know that the deal is done and I'm still here, I'm very excited, very happy.
"I thought it was a good trade. I've played against Glenn [in 1988 with the Pirates]. He's a good ballplayer, an All-Star definitely. He's a power hitter and one of those type of players who can't do anything but help the club."
The Orioles surrendered outfielder Steve Finley and pitchers Pete Harnisch and Curt Schilling in the deal. All three are 24 years old.
"You hate to give up young talent," Oates said. "I think we gave up a very good player in Steve Finley."
The downside to the trade is Davis' impending free agency. He earned $1.985 million last year and wants a four- or five-year package with an average annual value of more than $4 million.
"It's a good trade for the Orioles," said Palmer, who acknowledged the obvious risk of losing Davis after only one season.