Davis is aggressively working way back into Orioles' swing of things

August 12, 1991|By Jim Henneman | Jim Henneman,Evening Sun Staff

HAGERSTOWN -- Nobody is revealing a timetable, but there is every indication that Glenn Davis will return to the Orioles' lineup during the upcoming road trip to Milwaukee and Texas.

The slugging first baseman, who has been on the disabled list since April 26, is scheduled to resume his rehabilitation assignment with the Double A Hagerstown Suns tonight against the Canton Indians. He will play as many games here this week as is deemed necessary before facing major-league pitching.

"I don't know yet when I'll be back," said Davis, who swung the bat aggressively while going 0-for-4 in his first rehabilitation appearance Saturday night. "I'll play here as long as it takes me to feel like I can perform and help the big club.

"It would be bad to try and rehabilitate and do therapy at that level [the big leagues]," said Davis, who did return to Memorial Stadium to work out yesterday. "It would be different if I'd only been out 15 or 20 days. But after 3 1/2 months it wouldn't be fair to my teammates [to rehab in the big leagues]. It's not a question of doing your best, it's a question of whether or not I can help."

Davis did not take batting practice before Hagerstown's 6-1 loss to Harrisburg Saturday night, but will start with a regular pre-game routine tonight. "I let the game be my workout [Saturday]," he said.

"I'm at the point where I don't think I can do anything else other than to see if I can play," said Davis. "I'm going to limit my off field [therapy] work and focus on the games."

From his first swing under game conditions since being sidelined with a nerve and muscle injury to his neck, Davis left no doubt that he wouldn't hold anything back during his rehabilitation assignment. That swing produced a wicked foul ball down the leftfield line.

He subsequently grounded out softly twice, hit a screaming line drive that was caught against the centerfield fence and flied out to shallow leftfield. The results weren't as noteworthy as the application.

"He swung the bat hard," said Doug Melvin, the Orioles' assistant general manager who went to Hagerstown to watch Davis and prime pitching prospect Arthur Rhodes.

In his four at-bats, Davis gave his shoulder and neck a good test, even though he admitted it was like the first exhibition game in spring training.

"Strange, that's a good word," he said, explaining how it felt to be playing again under game conditions. "But everything felt real good. It felt good just to be back out on the field playing again."

Davis was used as the designated hitter Saturday, and may stay in that role again tonight, but he plans to get some time in all phases of the game before returning. "I'm going to play in the field," he said, even though that could be a rugged assignment on the concrete-hard surface of the Hagerstown infield. "I want to do as much as possible before I go back."

Orioles manager John Oates continues to say there is "no timetable" yet for Davis' return, and said he will work him back into the lineup slowly. "He'll DH at first, and then we'll work him in at first base. There's no need to rush anything."

After 3 1/2 months of inactivity, Davis has had to learn to be patient. These last few days will provide some anxiety, no doubt, but he appears geared to return to the Orioles' lineup very shortly.

"I could not get hits the whole time I was here, and not function at all," said Davis. "That won't be the important thing. I'll know when I'm ready to go up.

"I need to get my timing and rhythm down. I can hit fastballs, but I need to see off-speed stuff. I wouldn't be able to get that in Frederick [the Orioles' Single A team 25 miles down the road].

"I feel great right now," Davis said yesterday, after working out at Memorial Stadium. "I feel better than I did yesterday.

"It was a beautiful day and night for me," he said of his return to game conditions. "My work is cut out for me, but I was satisfied with my performance. The next step is to make adjustments."

And the step after that will be back into the Orioles' lineup. If everything goes right that will take place by the end of the week.

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