Glenn Davis putting hurt to opponents Oriole back in swing, has hit in 8 straight

July 25, 1992|By Ken Murray | Ken Murray,Staff Writer

Glenn Davis' first season as an Oriole was a pain in the neck, his second a pain in the side.

But now, the ache in Davis' career appears to have been transferred to a more appropriate place -- the opposition's pitching staff.

If Davis stays as hot through August and September as he has been in July, the Orioles could still be playing meaningful baseball in October. For much of this month, Davis' long-silent bat has been making big noise for the Orioles. It is a similar frequency to the one that made him one of the National League's most-feared sluggers in the 1980s.

When he beat out an infield hit in the second inning last night against the Texas Rangers, Davis had an eight-game hitting streak, his best as an Oriole. His eighth consecutive start also represented a season high.

9- Davis was thrown out at home later in the

second inning on an infield hit by Bill Ripken. Texas catcher Ivan Rodriguez left the game after the inning with a strained left knee on an awkward slide by Davis.

In the sixth inning, Davis' broken-bat, RBI-single to left capped a 5-run rally.

Davis has hit in 17 of his past 19 games, lifting his average from .211 on June 14 to .285. He has reached base in 23 straight games.

Even better, he has eight extra-base hits, including six homers, since May 24. For the season, he has seven homers and 23 RBI in 45 games.

"I like what I've seen of him since the All-Star break," manager Johnny Oates said. "I'm very encouraged.

"He's able to generate bat speed now, and he's able to check-swing when he wants to."

Davis' two seasons in Baltimore have been riddled with nagging -- and serious -- injuries. A year ago, it was a damaged spinal accessory nerve in his neck that limited his production to .227, 10 home runs and 28 RBI in only 49 games.

This year, a strained rib-cage muscle put Davis, 31, on the disabled list for 25 games. He has played only one game at first base this season -- that on opening day.

Davis, who has been reluctant to discuss his physical problems, said he has felt better in the last "three or four days" than he has at any time since hurting his neck in spring training more than a year ago.

But health isn't the only reason he has been swinging a more stinging bat of late. The other reason is he went back to the basics.

"As far as basic fundamentals, I've gone back to some things I've done in the past," he said.

One of those things is moving back up on the plate. After arriving in Baltimore a year ago and watching several American League sluggers -- including teammate Cal Ripken -- stand off the plate, he decided to move back in the batter's box.

"I started copying people and that wound up taking me from one place to the next. I wasn't solid at anything," he said.

"It got to the point, after last year when baseball was almost over with for me, that I decided to stay with what got me here."

When he was hurt, Davis said one of his goals this year was simply to pick up the slack when the team needed him. Now he wants to be an every-day player and go back to playing first base.

But he says the Orioles need more than a few hot bats to catch the Toronto Blue Jays in the AL East race.

"It can't be the same one-two-three guys contributing all the time," Davis said. "We need everybody to contribute. We've been kind of short in the 3-4-5 area the whole year. Most of our runs are scored at the top or bottom of the lineup."

Davis says this Oriole team is better than the 1986 Houston Astros, of which Davis was a member, that lost the National League Championship Series to the New York Mets. The Astros of 1986 had on their pitching staff the likes of Nolan Ryan, Mike Scott and Bob Knepper.

"In Houston, we were a pitching ballclub," Davis said. "We've got a much better hitting club here than when I was in Houston. And I know our staff is capable of keeping us in ballgames. I always wanted to wear a ring -- a conference championship or even better, a World Series ring. We're as close as I've ever been on a ballclub to accomplishing that. I really believe we can do it."

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