Davis' pain again sends twinges of doubt through Oriole clubhouse

Ken Rosenthal

April 09, 1992|By Ken Rosenthal

The manager slammed the door to his office. The general manager raced frantically through the clubhouse. The trainer refused to answer the simple question, "Is he still here?"

Welcome back to the Glenn Davis injury watch.

Crisis management, anyone?

The season is only two games old, and Davis was scratched from last night's 4-0 loss to Cleveland because of a slight strain of the ribcage muscle under his left shoulder blade.

We're told the injury is not related to either of the problems that forced the slugging first baseman to miss the equivalent of more than a full season the past two years.

We're told Davis already has undergone an extensive series of tests. We're told he could rejoin the team this weekend in Toronto.

Who knows what to believe?

Not even Davis knows exactly what is wrong.

He seems confident the injury is nothing more than a muscle problem, but said it felt "like someone shot me in the back" after getting off the Orioles' flight home from Florida a week ago.

He received a cortisone shot last weekend for bursitis, but said the muscle was "killing" him Opening Day, and that he was "just hoping and praying to make it to the next inning."


"Now you know how I feel," Davis said.

And the Orioles too.

They went through this last season, when Davis injured the spinal accessory nerve in his neck. The best-case scenario had him returning in three weeks. He missed nearly four months.

The previous year, he missed two months in Houston with a serious ribcage injury. Davis compared this one to back spasms, but you'd never know it, the way the Orioles reacted yesterday.

Let's just be thankful our beloved club officials are only responsible for running a baseball team, and not something serious, like the entire country.

Davis' health is about the touchiest subject imaginable. One, the man himself is sensitive. Two, the Orioles need him. Three, he's guaranteed $6.565 million during the next two years.

Including Davis' $3.275 million salary last season, club owner Eli Jacobs has now invested nearly $10 million in a player whose latest consecutive games streak ended at one.

Quick, build more luxury boxes!

Yesterday's saga began innocently enough, with manager Johnny Oates revealing Davis' problem and smiling at the obvious follow-up about how this injury related to last year's.

"I've been completely assured it's not even remotely anywhere near it," Oates said, piling on the words for emphasis. "It's the lower left side as opposed to the upper right side."

Oates pointed to his lower back when asked to be more specific. But moments later, general manager Roland Hemond gave a conflicting report, saying the injury was to the ribcage muscle below the shoulder blade.

A big difference, and not simply because of Davis' history. The Orioles flat-out lied about his condition last season, claiming he had a hamstring pull for nearly a week when in fact he was facing a career-threatening injury.

Thus, a group of reporters sought clarification from Oates, and that's when the normally mild-mannered manager snapped, turning the new stadium into Oriole Park at Slam-den Yards.

First he said to ask the doctors. Then he said to ask Davis. And then, with the reporters standing outside, he slammed the door.

It stayed on its hinges, in case you're wondering.

Only the best, for $105.4 million.

After the game, Oates said he was frustrated with the confusion surrounding the injury, not the reporters, not Hemond, not Davis.

"I'm a guy that believes in black-and-white," Oates said. "If there's something wrong, you've got to be able to find out what's wrong and fix it.

"What's frightening to me is that we don't know what's wrong. That's not a knock at the doctors. They just can't seem to pinpoint what's causing the trouble."

Said Davis last night, "That's what I want to know -- what's causing it. It was mild in the spring, nothing to write home about. It didn't bother me.

"When we came back up here and got off the plane, I felt like someone shot me in the back. I was going, 'What happened? Where in the world did this come from?'

"I'm not scared, not at all," said Davis, 31. "My main concern right now is putting it behind me. I'm sorry I even have to come to the ballpark and talk about being hurt.

"For the fans, myself and my team, that's the last thing I would want to happen. I'll miss a few games, but we're not talking DL or anything like that. It's not any major big deal."

Except this is Glenn Davis.

Who knows what to believe?

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