HAGERTOWN — HAGERSTOWN -- As he moves close to the final stage of his rehabilitation, Glenn Davis also is working hard at not being a distraction for the Hagerstown Suns.
The Orioles' injured first baseman has appeared almost self-conscious here, trying to be as inconspicuous as possible while playing himself back into shape. He knows what he has to do, but he doesn't want to rain on the Suns' parade as they try to solidify a playoff spot in the Double A Eastern League.
"I'll take him every game I can," said Hagerstown manager Jerry Narron after his "loaner" played first base and went 1-for-4 with an RBI in last night's 4-3, 10-inning win over Canton-Akron.
But Davis is aware that individual sacrifices have to be made to accommodate him, and that he has drawn attention away from the team itself. "Some guys here have had to back down because of me," he said. "They've had to sit so I can play.
"I feel for those guys and hope they understand," said Davis. "At some point in time I'll let them know that I realize what they had to do and that I appreciate it."
Ever since he arrived here last Saturday, Davis has tried to fit in as unobtrusively as possible. His every move is being chronicled because of a 3 1/2 -month absence from the Orioles' lineup because of a rare neck and shoulder injury, but Davis has gone out of his way to fit in with his temporary teammates.
After each of the three games he's played, Davis has refrained from clubhouse interviews, meeting with the media after the Suns have left. "The last thing I want to do here is 'big league' it," he said.
"I don't put myself any higher up than these guys -- I treat them just like anybody else. And they shouldn't have to treat me any different."
It had been expected that Bill Ripken would join Davis in the Suns' lineup last night, but the second baseman reported some soreness after serving as a designated hitter in Frederick the night before. After taking batting practice in Baltimore, it was decided that Ripken would wait another day before testing his injured rib cage muscle in the field.
He is now scheduled to join Davis in the Hagerstown lineup tonight.
Davis said his rehabilitation assignment was a reminder of something that should be important to every major leaguer. "It reminds me of my past," he said. "I think it's important for all big-league players to try hard not to forget their roots.
"I would like to be playing in Baltimore right now," said Davis, "but I like being here. These guys are just trying to play ball and have fun -- everybody's pulling for each other.
"Sometimes in the big leagues we have an identity problem and it's 'I, I, me, me' and we worry about ourself and forget about the other guys. Here, you don't forget about the other guys.
"When I walked off the field tonight," said Davis, "I told myself that I had fun. That's what I want to do when I play in Baltimore."
Davis appears on schedule to return to the Orioles' lineup during the upcoming road trip that starts Friday in Milwaukee and concludes a week from tonight in Texas. But he will return here for at least one more game tonight.
"This was another step," said Davis. "I played in the field for the first time, but I still have some work to do. I'll be back here tomorrow. It's important for me to play as many innings as I can."
Those remaining innings, Davis said, would be played at first base. Last night he served as the Suns' illogical leadoff hitter, strictly to assure he got as many at-bats as possible.
"I wasn't sure how long I'd be able to go in the field," he said. "As it turned out I went longer than I expected and was able to get four at-bats, which was good.
"I've come a long way at the plate," said Davis. "I've settled down a little and was letting the ball come to me. Mechanically I felt good and physically I felt great."
In his three games with the Suns Davis is 2-for-11 with two runs batted in.