O's finally get return on Davis -- insurance payoff

October 08, 1993|By Mark Hyman | Mark Hyman,Staff Writer

Glenn Davis is likely to go down in Orioles history as an expensive gamble that didn't pay off. But an insurance policy may soften that blow.

Orioles officials say they expect to collect about $600,000 from a disability policy that insured them against injuries to the

TC ailment-prone slugger, who was released by the club last month.

The payoff offsets a fraction of Davis' 1993 salary of $3.75 million.

"This was an unusual situation. We usually don't insure our players against disability," said Larry Lucchino, club vice chairman for operations.

Lucchino said he wasn't sure if Davis knew about the policy, though the player had to submit to a physical exam.

Neither Davis nor his agent, Robert Fraley, was available yesterday. A spokesman in Fraley's office said: "Glenn has left Baltimore. He is leaving those things behind."

Disability policies are used occasionally by many major-league clubs. Lucchino said the Orioles began buying them about 15 years ago -- "in the early days of guaranteed contracts" -- because they helped to protect against career-ending injuries to stars.

In Davis' case, Lucchino said: "Obviously, we found this prudent, and hindsight proves that it was."

Among the current Orioles, Cal Ripken would seem to be a logical candidate for disability coverage. The Orioles have a huge financial investment in Ripken, who just completed the first season of a five-year, $30.5 million contract.

Lucchino wouldn't comment on whether the Orioles are insuring Ripken or any other player on the roster now, saying that if he did, "It might suggest a sense of fragility about a player that could be misinterpreted."

He also wouldn't discuss details of the Davis policy, including how much the Orioles paid for the coverage. But Lucchino did say it allowed the Orioles to collect if Davis spent at least 60 days on the disabled list.

That became a certainty when Davis suffered a broken jaw when punched outside a Virginia Beach, Va., nightclub. He was with the Rochester Red Wings at the time.

The injury just about ended his season, putting him on the disabled list from June 7 to Sept. 6. Davis was reactivated briefly, but then released after he and manager Johnny Oates argued in the Orioles clubhouse before a game. Davis had objected to being left out of the lineup.

Lucchino said the Orioles bought the policy before the 1992 season, when they signed Davis to a two-year, $6 million-plus contract. Back then, the first baseman was just off a shaky first year with the club in which he missed 104 games with a freakish neck injury.

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