Davis wants to stay with Orioles, but is feeling mutual?

MIKE LITTWIN

October 08, 1991|By MIKE LITTWIN

The nostalgia-fest has ended, and we're back to baseball-as-business, meaning it's time to discuss Glenn Davis.

In case you missed it: Davis had a terrible, miserable, unendingly frustrating season in which, for a time, his career seemed in jeopardy. His reaction to this real-life adversity was typically Glenn Davis. He said it made him stronger. He said it made him a better person. He said he learned about hardship and belief and overcoming barriers. I told you it was Glenn Davis.

And, now, he wants to start anew -- as an Oriole.

That last part is important. He wants to come back. Davis' future is a two-part question, and the first is whether he wants to remain an Oriole now that his one-year contract is over.

"I do," he said. "Oh yeah, I really do."

He wants to put away bad memories and make some good ones. He'd like to hit 30 homers and drive in 100 runs and be a credit to his community -- this community.

"I've really enjoyed being here, despite everything that's happened," he was saying Sunday before the final game. He stood at his locker, caught up in the emotion of the day and thinking that some of the emotion could be his some other day.

If you were paying attention, however, you remember this was a two-part problem, and the second half is whether the Orioles want Davis back. I'm not sure of the answer. I've talked to a few people in the front office, and, from what I hear, they want him back -- on their terms, which probably means a one-year contract.

Davis remains optimistic something will be worked out. You have to like that in him.

"They've given me every indication, from everything they've said to me, that they consider me a part of their future," he said. "I think I'll know very early in the negotiations how things stand. Let's just say if I've misread the situation, I'd be very disappointed."

lTC This is another in a series of litmus tests, and I'm still waiting for the Orioles to pass one. It's clear what the Orioles must do. They have to sign Davis and a front-line pitcher. The rest -- a leadoff man would help -- can be filled in by trade and by Roland Hemond-style pickups on the cheap.

The only way the Orioles can justify failing to sign Davis would be for medical reasons. If the shoulder is not sound, then obviously they need to look elsewhere. If he's healthy, he's still Glenn Davis, and Glenn Davis hits 30 homers and drives in 100 runs. Glenn Davis and Cal Ripken give the Orioles a fearsome middle of the lineup. The Orioles can afford him. He wants to come back.

And Davis knows the game as it must be played.

"I know my market value isn't what it was a year ago," he said. "They know that, and I know that. I know people are going to have questions about my shoulder.

"I'm a straightforward type of person. I don't think I can be overly demanding. I don't think I can ask for anything outrageous. And, you know, I'm a principled person, and there are principles that don't include money. But I'm not going to underestimate myself either."

To hear Davis talk, what he wants is a fair deal. I don't know what that is, or he if he knows. I don't know what the market will bear. I don't know if anyone else in the wide world of baseball wants to risk giving him a multiyear contract. I don't even know if it's in his interest.

Here's one scenario: With Davis' value reduced after the shoulder injury, maybe he shouldn't tie himself into a long-term deal. If he signs a one-year contract and has a big season, then he might hit the jackpot -- not that his $3.275 million this year is chopped liver.

This is the biggest question facing the Orioles. They answered an easy one yesterday when they gave John Oates a two-year contract. That was smart. The team's failure wasn't his fault any more than it had been Frank Robinson's. Just because firing Robinson was a mistake doesn't mean that rehiring Oates is one. At the same time, the Orioles fired pitching coach Al Jackson, who probably wasn't at fault either. But it's hard to blame the Orioles, in this instance, for trying someone different.

They need to do a lot of things differently, and signing Davis -- I think they can get him relatively cheap, given what cheap means today, right now over three years -- would be a start.

"They've treated me great here," said Davis, who grew up in the Houston organization, where "organization" must be used loosely. "They've taken an interest in me. They've tried to do the right thing as far as my shoulder was concerned. I think it's a first-class organization, and I think we've got a lot of potential here.

"Look what the Braves did. I think we're in better shape than they were a year ago."

Look what the Braves did: They spent money to get Terry Pendleton, who leads the young players to a division title. Looks what the Twins did: They got Jack Morris and Chili Davis. There's a lesson here. You think the Orioles have been taking notes?

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