Davis' road back slow and lonely Hard-luck first baseman goes 0-for-8 for Frederick

August 29, 1993|By Doug Brown | Doug Brown,Staff Writer

FREDERICK -- Glenn Davis sat outside the Frederick Keys' locker room and talked. Photographers and fans wanting autographs hovered around, but Davis ignored them.

He talked about his Orioles career. About the injuries, the frustration, the unfulfilled expectations.

No matter how well he does on this rehabilitation assignment, Davis believes the Orioles have no interest in re-signing him when his three-year contract expires after the season. Although he is 32, he vows he will play again.

"I might even go play winter ball. I'm prepared to do what it takes to get back to playing perfection.

"I'll keep playing. There's somebody out there who will give me an opportunity in the big leagues. I'm too good a player to leave the game. Everybody knows that. I've had a lot of misfortune."

Davis will play three games with the Keys, the last today at Lynchburg. He then will join Triple-A Rochester on the road for four games, in Richmond and Norfolk, and then play a few games for the Bowie Baysox before rejoining the Orioles when they return from their road trip Sept. 6.

"It made better sense to do this than go to Oakland with the big team," Davis said, who is 0-for-8 in two games with Frederick after another 0-for-4 outing in the Keys' 6-3 loss to the Durham Bulls last night.

He began his rehab assignment with an 0-for-4 outing as the designated hitter in the No. 5 spot in the order Friday night -- three ground outs and a strikeout.

"I was real stiff and tight," Davis said before last night's game. "I'm trying to get my rhythm and timing. Remember, I haven't played in 2 1/2 months."

For that reason, Frederick manager Pete Mackanin expected little of the Orioles first baseman who has only 113 at-bats, and a .177 batting average, in 30 games this season.

"Rehab is tough on any player," Mackanin said. "All the young players are watching and the fans expect a home run every time up. Babe Ruth and Pete Rose couldn't come back after 2 1/2 months and lace out hits. His timing is off."

Before a gathering of 9,443, Davis played first base and batted fifth again last night and failed to hit the ball out of the infield. The crowd gave the Keys standing-room crowds of 9,000-plus in their final two regular-season games and their third straight Carolina League attendance record, this time with a total of 351,146.

Keys officials said Davis had no affect on attendance, that the club was assured of sellouts before news of his arrival came Friday.

In his first trip, Davis bounced into an inning-ending force out with a man on first base. In the fourth inning, he was called out on strikes, in the sixth he fouled out to the catcher and in the eighth he struck out, fooled badly on his final swing.

"He took a few good, aggressive swings," Mackanin said. "He doesn't look bad, just like a guy who doesn't have his timing. He's not comfortable -- which will come only from playing."

The crowd gasped in the eighth inning when Davis and pitcher John Polasek collided while chasing a slow roller down the first-base line. Davis went down, but remained in the game.

The appearance of Davis created little stir, in the stands, on the field, in the clubhouse. He signed a few autographs in the locker room, but was by no means mobbed.

"Any time a big leaguer's on the team, you feel good," said Keys outfielder Jose Millares. "He goes about his business. That's what's impressive. It's tough coming off the disabled list. This is the first time he's faced live pitching for a long time."

When Davis analyzes this season, he says it began with "an opportunity to regain my form and get back on top of my game."

"Then it was taken from me," he said of the incident outside a Virginia nightclub in which he suffered a broken jaw when punched by a bouncer. "I was robbed of it by a person who committed an inhumane act."

No sooner had he recovered than he was hit in the head by a line drive while sitting in the Orioles dugout.

"From Day One in Baltimore, it has been the most trying time I've had as a player and human being," Davis said. "There's been so much back-to-back that it takes the joy away. It becomes a chore. It's like you come to the game to be abused physically and mentally.

"It's my competitiveness and desire that keeps me coming back."

He said that, over three years, he never got his "feet on the ground," that he could never play through a season and concentrate on that alone; instead, he had to focus on "outside circumstances."

Said Davis: "I had no control over it. I had to learn how to handle it, then how to live with it. Now I have to learn how to play with it."

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