MILWAUKEE -- Glenn Davis guards his clean-cut, nice-guy image very closely, but the day after Milwaukee Brewers pitcher Chris Bosio drilled him in the back with a retaliatory fastball, he thought it would be a good time to clear up any possible misconceptions.
"I just hope that doesn't start happening regularly," Davis said. "Me coming to a new league, if they think they can intimidate me, well, I'm not going to let that happen."
Davis had hit his first American League home run a couple of innings earlier. He returned to the plate right after Cal Ripken lined a two-run shot to left to give the Baltimore Orioles a three-run lead. Bosio vented his frustration with a hard fastball that hit Davis in about the same area of the lower back where he suffered from a nagging muscle strain last year.
There was a staredown as Davis walked slowly to first base, but the Orioles first baseman resisted the urge to charge the mound. Now, he wants other American League pitchers to know that he might not be able to show so much self-discipline the next time.
"I'm cautious about the example I set for young kids and people in how I play the game," he said, "but I have a family and this is
how I make my living. I value my health. There comes a time when you have to stand up for what you believe is right. If it causes me to overlook that [his squeaky-clean image], then I'll have to do it."
That is about as close to a threat as Davis is going to get. He is one of the most mild-mannered players in the game, but boyhood acquaintances -- most notably former Orioles pitcher Storm Davis -- can tell stories of a very different Glenn Davis, the one who would make running backs cry when he hit them on the football field. Opposing pitchers might take note of his experience as a defensive back before inviting him to the mound.
"People know me for what I am now," he said. "Parents and children look up to me and respect me for my approach to the game. That would be the only thing that would deter me.
"But I do have a temper. I'm sometimes afraid of myself and what I can do. I have learned a lot of control and discipline in that area, but once I get pushed over the edge, it'll be scary."
Davis is not new to the purpose pitch. He has had more than his share of bruises since he broke into the major leagues. He was hit 47 times in his 5 1/2 seasons with the Houston Astros (no one in the National League was hit more often over that period), and he tied a major-league record last year when he was hit by pitches three times on Opening Day.
"Stuff like that happened more early in my career in the National League, but it tapered off after a while," Davis said. "If they are going to try and do the same things in this league, I'm not going to let it happen."
He has not been involved in a lot of brawls, but that might be because of the way things can even out in the National League. Pitchers have to go to the plate, so they cannot throw at a hitter with impunity the way American League pitchers can.
"If that would have happened in the National League, Bosio would not have gotten away with it," Davis said. "But you can get away with something like that here. He better be glad he's in the American League, because when he came up, he would have paid.
"I don't know if [Brewers manager Tom] Trebelhorn had anything to do with that, but I think it's weak. He [Bosio] threw the [home-run] pitch to Cal. He's going to have to swallow it.
He's not going to take his frustration out on me again. If people think that they can intimidate me and I won't do anything about it, I can't let that keep happening. I hope the general public understands that."
Manager Frank Robinson understands it, though he is not about to encourage one of his most valuable players to risk injury in a bench-clearing brawl every time he gets knocked down.
"There are other ways to get back at a pitcher," Robinson said. "You can do more damage to him by hitting the ball than by going out to the mound."
But Robinson stopped short of advising Davis to turn the other cheek every time he takes a fastball in the ribs.
"I never said that," said Robinson, who charged the mound a few times during his Hall of Fame career. "Each individual has to do what he feels he has to do."
Major-league hit-by-pitch leaders last season:
7-Player, team . . . . . . . . . . . . ....HBP
Phil Bradley, Baltimore-Chi. (A). . . . . 11
Pete Incaviglia, Texas . . . . . . . . . . 9
Glenn Davis, Houston. . . . . . . . . . . 8
Kelly Gruber, Toronto. . . . . . . . . . . 8
Leaders in ratio of plate appearances per hit-by-pitch (e.g.,
Bradley averaged being hit by a pitch every 45.0 plate appearances):
Player, team. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . ratio
Bradley, Baltimore-Chi. (A). . . . . . . 45.0
Davis, Houston 47.. . . . . . . . . . . .. . 6
Jim Leyritz, N.Y. Yankees . . . . . . . . 48.4
Dave Valle, Seattle. . . . . . . . . . . 52.0
* Site: County Stadium, Milwaukee
Orioles starter: Dave Johnson (1-0, 0.00)
Brewers starter: Jaime Navarro (0-0, 3.00)
Radio: WBAL (1090 AM), WTOP (1500 AM)