Storm Davis came back to Baltimore yesterday -- just for a visit, but soon to try his hand in the renovation of the Baltimore Orioles pitching staff.
New teammate and old soulmate Glenn Davis picked him up at the airport and drove him to Memorial Stadium, where he talked about his past and his future at the press luncheon in his honor.
He was acquired last week from the Kansas City Royals for catcher Bob Melvin. He and his wife, Angie, were flown in by the Orioles yesterday to meet the media, though Storm knew almost everybody from his first tour of duty here.
It was a homecoming because this is where he spent the first five years of his major-league career. It was also a family reunion, since Glenn and Storm will be playing on the same team for the first timesince they were multisport stars at University Christian High School in Jacksonville, Fla.
The two are not related by blood, but they are family nonetheless. Both lived at different times under the same roof. Both ended up in the same profession. Now, both are on the
"This is a great day," said Glenn Davis, who delivered the opening remarks. "It's a day of fulfillment and excitement. One of the desires of my heart was the transaction that brought Storm here. I just wanted to be the first to welcome them."
Storm echoed the feeling, but took it a step further. His career has taken him through San Diego, Oakland and Kansas City, but he said that he never really got Baltimore out of his system. His desire to return intensified when the Orioles acquired Glenn a year ago.
"It's tough when you grow up with someone and then you have to go your separate ways," Storm said. "To be able to come back here and be in partnership with Glenn, to both make it to the major leagues and then be able to end up playing together is special.
"It's been 10 years since I first came here. There has been a lot of water under the bridge. But, hopefully, there will be a lot more bridges to build."
He was cast as the next Jim Palmer when he broke into the major leagues in 1982, and he opened his major-league career with four straight winning seasons. But he left town after the 1986 season -- traded to the Padres for Mark Williamson and Terry Kennedy -- never having lived up to the billing.
"In a way, maybe I had to go to San Diego and Oakland and Kansas City," he said. "Maybe I had to go through that to get rid of that tag. I'm not Jim Palmer. I'm never going to be Jim Palmer. I'm not going to win as many games as Jim Palmer. I know my limitations."
The Orioles are gambling that his limitations are not as pronounced as his numbers last year might indicate. Davis lost his place in the Royals rotation early and finished with a 3-9 record and a 4.96 ERA. He returns to Baltimore as a candidate for the starting rotation. The Orioles hope that, with the help of thecoaching staff and the support of a solid bullpen, he more closely will resemble the Storm Davis who won 19 games for the Athletics in 1989.
"We've got Storm penciled in as one of our starting pitchers," manager John Oates said. "The ballclub always comes first, but I think it's important for us to put players in a position where they can succeed. There isn't a doubt in my mind that Storm can be a very successful starting pitcher."
Davis voiced the hope that longtime Orioles coaches Cal Ripken Sr. and Elrod Hendricks will be able to help him see into his past.
"There are still some guys here who saw me when I came up who couldn't say anything before because I was on the other team," Davis said. "Cal Sr., Cal Jr., Elrod, maybe they'll see something that might help."
At the same time, the Orioles hope that Davis, who will turn 30 on Dec. 26, will be a positive influence on the young pitchers who fill the top three spots in the rotation. He has 10 years' experience and a couple of world championship rings, but nothing succeeds like on-field success.
"I've come to understand that in this day and age of high salaries and high expectations, the only thing that matters is performance," Davis said. "I'm very disappointed that I didn't do as well as I wanted to do in Kansas City. But I've learned that not everybody is going to like you. You just have to learn from your failures and go on."