Davis is a big hit in DH debut with first-pitch homer


CHICAGO -- It has been one new experience after another for Baltimore Orioles first baseman Glenn Davis, who spent the first night game at the new Comiskey Park in an unfamiliar role.

He was in the designated-hitter slot for the first time in his major-league career last night, thanks to a slight hamstring strain that might otherwise have kept him out of the lineup completely.

The White Sox undoubtedly wish it had, because Davis celebrated his first at-bat as a DH with a long home run to stake the Orioles to a two-run lead in the first inning. He jumped on the first pitch he saw from White Sox right-hander Alex Fernandez and pulled it deep into the bleachers in left.

He has been struggling at the plate, but his third home run of the young season tied Cal Ripken for the club lead in that department.

The newness of the stadium was only a secondary consideration. Every American League stadium is new to Davis, who came over to the Orioles from the Houston Astros in January. But the designated-hitter role figured to require some adjustment, since Davis has been a full-time first baseman since broke into the major leagues.

He did not seem terribly concerned about it before the game. Apparently, it's just a matter of finding something to do between at-bats.

"I'll be moving around a lot, I'll tell you that," he said. "When I got a day off in Houston, after six or seven innings they wanted me back in the game because I was driving everybody crazy."

Davis didn't really need a new challenge yet. He's still feeling his way around at the plate, batting just .235 going into last night's game.

The strained left hamstring is one of three minor injuries to hamper Davis in the early going. He suffered a neck strain during spring training and took a fastball off his lower back last week in Milwaukee. But he has played in each of the club's 11 games.

* Chicago White Sox outfielder Tim Raines met briefly with reporters yesterday to tell them that he is changing back to his given name -- Tim.

"I want to apologize to all of the Rock fans out there," he said, "but I'm going back to Tim. That's my legal name. That's the name my mother gave me, and that's what I want to be called."

What brought this on? Isn't this the same guy who said during spring training that he was going to have his name legally changed to Rock, a nickname he has had since his rookie-league days in the Montreal Expos organization?

"After the recent developments with my stats as Rock, I'm going to have to go back to Tim," he explained, "but I'm not a superstitious man."

Raines entered last night's game hitting .116, with just five hits in his first 43 regular-season at-bats as a member of the White Sox.

* General manager Roland Hemond looked disoriented. He was a member of the White Sox front office for 18 years but was out of his element in the third-floor lobby at the new Comiskey Park.

"I can't believe it," Hemond laughed. "I'm in Comiskey Park and I don't know where I am."

* Manager Frank Robinson seemed impressed with the layout of the new stadium, though he scoffed at comparisons with Dodger Stadium.

"I like it," he said, "but it reminds me more of Yankee Stadium, especially with the steep upper deck."

There was reason to wonder if the unfamiliar lighting would be a problem for the outfielders in the first night game, but Robinson was not concerned.

"I don't anticipate any problems," he said, "but you never know in a new ballpark. I'm sure they've been out there to check that."

* The press box at Comiskey Park will be dedicated to the late Bill Veeck, a former owner of the White Sox, at 4:30 p.m. today.

Speakers will include Hemond, Chicago Tribune columnist Jerome Holtzman, South Bend Tribune columnist Bill Gleason, former White Sox broadcaster Jack Brickhouse and Veeck's widow, Mary Francis.

* The starting time of tomorrow's game has been moved to 8:35 p.m. from 8:05 p.m. to accommodate an ESPN telecast.

Orioles tonight

Site: Comiskey Park, Chicago

Time: 8:05

Orioles starter: Dave Johnson (1-1, 5.23)

White Sox starter: Jack McDowell (2-1, 3.48)

Radio: WBAL (1090 AM), WTOP (1500 AM)

TV: Channels 2, 20

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