SARASOTA, Fla. — Lest anyone think that Chris Davis had any reservations about the expected arrival of designated hitter Nelson Cruz, he said Sunday that he is very excited about playing again with his former Texas Rangers teammate.
Davis has been one of baseball's most vocal anti-steroid guys, and Cruz was disciplined for his part in the Biogenesis PED scandal, but Davis thinks Cruz is a good teammate who will fit right into the Orioles clubhouse.
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"Great dude,'' he said. "I was really excited about that. I know there were a few rumors a couple of days ago about us maybe signing him. I thought it was a huge pickup for us — a guy that I know has made some mistakes in the past but, unlike some people, has owned up to it.
"I think there's a lot to be said for that — guys that make mistakes but own up to it, serve their suspensions and now it's time to move on — so I'm excited to see him in an Orioles uniform."
Cruz will arrive in a clubhouse full of players who have bought into the work ethic and behavioral standards demanded by manager Buck Showalter, so Davis isn't worried about any newcomer negatively impacting team chemistry.
"I think this is a team full of guys who came from other places, guys who were given a second chance here and really succeeded,'' Davis said. "That really builds character. Coming into this clubhouse, we expect you to hold yourself accountable, hold others accountable and do things the right way, and I think that's good for everybody."
So just how good is the Orioles offensive lineup now?
"It just got a little bit better,'' Davis said. "We were pretty excited about what we had going into the offseason, knowing the emphasis was going to be on pitching. To get the guys we got — Ubaldo [Jimenez] and [Suk-min] Yoon — and then to bring in a guy like Delmon Young, a veteran like Alex Gonzales and then, obviously, signing Nelson, that just makes it that much better."
Cruz figures to bat fifth in the lineup behind Davis and Adam Jones, which should help both of them build on their terrific 2013 performances.
"It adds a little bit of protection, that's for sure,'' Davis said. "I think it gives some guys a little bit of a break. I mean, [Matt Weiters], look, he's caught 1,000 games the last two years, maybe that should give him a chance to get a blow, knowing we don't have to match up the next day. We've got a few more guys that can get in there. It just adds that much more versatility to our lineup."