'Dug in my bunker,' Davis ready for comeback fight Vows boos, slump won't destroy him

June 04, 1993|By Jim Henneman | Jim Henneman,Staff Writer

FORT MILL, S.C. -- After considering his options, Glenn Davis said he decided to accept an assignment to the minor leagues because it was in his best interests.

After going 1-for-4 in his first game with the Rochester Red Wings here Wednesday night, Davis skipped last night's exhibition game in Baltimore and had a private work out here instead. In between, he took some time to reflect on his situation and his rather tenuous relationship with the Orioles and their fans, both of whom have grown impatient waiting for him to produce.

"When I talked to the players association about going to the minor leagues, they told me most players said no, and my first instinct was to say no," said Davis. "But I thought it would be best for me, and the Orioles, to show that I was exhausting all measures to regain all my capabilities.

"I look at it as a measure of good faith to prove I can improve and help the club. But most of all, I'm doing it for myself.

"I'm dug in," he said with a stern look that appeared made up of equal parts determination and bitterness.

"I'm in my bunker and I'll fight until somebody makes the decision that I should do otherwise.

"I know the talent and ability are there. If anything, I'm better off doing things my way," Davis said with a hint he'd made some adjustments along the way he regretted.

Although the vocal abuse he has taken from the fans at Camden Yards obviously bothers him, Davis insisted he won't let it destroy him.

"Have they booed Cal Ripken?" he asked. "If they can boo that man, who has been Mr. Oriole, why can't they boo me? I'll say this, it's a different Orioles fan than I've experienced in the past.

"There's nothing I can do to change it [the booing], and I'm not going to attempt it. What I do know is that I'm not going to let it bring my head down. I'm going to keep my chin up and I'm not going to say anything back to them."

Although some would say his failure to produce would warrant the criticism he has heard, Davis seems to think otherwise.

"I don't sell drugs. I don't beat my wife. I don't beat my children," he said. "I don't drive [speeding] cars through the city. I don't carry guns.

"I don't cause trouble with people, I respect the game and I play hard. I give it my best and I have the same approach if I'm hitting .300 with 30 home runs and 100 RBI or if I'm hitting the way I am now.

"That's all I can ask of myself. You won't see me letting down. You won't see me not working hard and preparing for the game. That's what I would tell my children and the children we have at the home [that he and his wife, Teresa, established in Columbus, Ga., for abandoned and abused children]. If you can do that, you can walk away with your head up."

Comparing himself to a golfer who has to retreat to the practice range to refine his game, Davis returned to the minor leagues to prove he is willing to do whatever it takes to get himself back in gear.

"I don't have any answers as to why my offensive numbers are not matching up with my capabilities," he said. "I don't know what I'm hitting [.177], but I know I've hit a lot of balls hard -- whether they're just foul or caught -- right on the screws.

"The only thing missing is the long ball. I know that. If I had seven or eight more home runs my RBI total would be up around 20 -- not my normal pace, but close enough.

"I can't change the numbers that are already up there. All I can do is work as hard as I can to try and improve them."

The Orioles and Davis have an agreement that he'll be recalled after no more than 20 games. Whether that number is etched in stone most likely depends on Davis.

The Orioles obviously feel they're a stronger team without him at the moment. But they also know what a productive Davis could mean.

It is highly unusual for a player of his stature to be ironing out his problems in the minors, but Davis said there is one thing that doesn't change.

"The environment is different, the players are different, the parks are different," he said. "But the game is the same.

"What I'm doing now is what I want to do. I'm here to work under game conditions. I need to get back in focus and prove to myself that I can go back and help.

"This is how I chose to do it," said Davis.

O'S DRAFT PITCHER

The Orioles selected a Southeastern Conference pitcher with their first pick for the third time in five years in baseball's amateur draft yesterday. Jay Powell, a 6-foot-4, 221-pound right-hander for Mississippi State, said he was surprised and excited.

(Article, 3D)

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