Glenn Davis visited Memorial Stadium for the first time yesterday and said he is willing to be open-minded about his forthcoming contract negotiations with the Baltimore Orioles.
"At this point in time, I'm still thinking about exploring the free-agent market, but at the same time I'm willing to settle down and forget all that, too," said Davis, who was acquired in a four-player trade last week with the Houston Astros.
"The interest they've shown, the way the transaction went, is a positive sign that they're thinking a little more about me than one year. Still, I can't underestimate my potential and abilities in the open market."
Signing Davis to a multiyear deal is considered the key to the value of the trade, which sent pitchers Pete Harnisch and Curt Schilling and outfielder Steve Finley to Houston.
Davis' representatives have filed for salary arbitration with the Major League Baseball Players Association, but that can be moot if an agreement can be reached before his hearing takes place.
One of his representatives, Michael R. Moye, an associate of Robert Fraley's with Leader Enterprises Inc., of Orlando, Fla., accompanied Davis to Baltimore.
"We have no pre-notions," said Moye, who will be joined here by
HTC Fraley tomorrow. "We're certainly approaching this with a lot of optimism."
It is unlikely the Orioles will offer the five-year, $25 million package Davis reportedly wanted from the Astros, and the process of getting an agreement could be protracted.
Team president Larry Lucchino said the team will adopt an air of "confidentiality" about the talks, "the same ground rules we follow when we negotiate with Cal Ripken or anybody else."
"We still have a number of players unsigned, and tomorrow [today] is the final day for arbitration filing. This could take a long time."
Moye was equally mum about specifics, saying only: "This has the potential to be a great marriage. We're excited about it. Certainly, we would like to explore wrapping things up earlier rather than later."
An early resolution also would please Davis, who has averaged one home run every 18.2 at-bats in his career, the 11th-best average in the major leagues, despite playing half his games in a pitchers' paradise, the Astrodome.
"Right now, I know I'm in Baltimore for next year, but a long-term contract can help a player a lot mentally," he said. "Just knowing you're going to stay here allows you more mental capacity to think about playing the game.
"I would like to have the contract in place, so I can do the things I want for the community."
Davis expounded on a variety of topics, including his willingness to try playing the outfield if that is manager Frank Robinson's desire, and his pleasure at being out of Houston and the Astrodome.
"My trade is first base, and I've worked hard at it," he said. "But my first seven [major-league] games were in the outfield. I'm not going toobject if he wants to try me in the outfield. I'll do whatever it takes to help the ballclub."
On the Astrodome, he said that the air is almost non-existent and the ball doesn't carry.
"There were nights when I'd hit one that would be out anywhere else and it would wind up on the warning track," he said. "I didn't sleep after those. That eats at you. I'm looking forward to leaving there. Just getting someplace else will help my average. It's a nightmare."
He said he is looking forward to playing in an organization "committed to making changes, [getting] what it takes to win. That's what will motivate me.
"Storm [Davis, with whose family Glenn Davis lived when both were teen-agers] was really pumped when I talked to him after the trade, telling me about the fans, people, talent and tradition here. I'm excited because I've never had the opportunity to be in an environment where baseball is No. 1."
* Davis will wear uniform No. 37. In Houston, he was No. 27.
"They just gave that to me," he said of the Astros. "My wife [Teresa] got mad because 37 is her favorite number. If she's happy, I'm happy."
* The Orioles will feature public tours of the progress at the new ballpark during their fourth annual Winter Carnival on Feb. 2 at the Omni Inner Harbor Hotel.
Tours will leave every hour from 11 a.m. until 2 p.m., but space will be limited. The day also includes autograph sessions, clinics and a media round-table discussion.
Tickets can be purchased at the door or in advance by calling 481-6000 in Baltimore, 432-0200 in Washington or (800) 448-9009 from anywhere else.
* Three Orioles on the 40-man roster have prospered in the winter leagues.
Pitcher Oswald Peraza continued his comeback with a 6-0 record and 1.99 ERA for Lara in Venezuela and was named Right-handed Pitcher of the Year and Comeback Player of the Year.
Third baseman Leo Gomez finished the Puerto Rican regular season with eight home runs and 31 RBI for Santurce and has two homers and four RBI in five postseason games.
Francisco de la Rosa had a 7-1 record and 3.29 ERA for Estrellas in the Dominican Republic, tying for the league lead in wins.