Davis, who departed the major-league club Thursday in New York, returned home for the weekend and apparently will join the Red Wings in Charlotte, N.C., on Tuesday. He has avoided interview requests, but Orioles public relations director Rick Vaughn relayed a series of questions to him early yesterday.
The answers were predictable, but they reflect the thoughts of a struggling player who twice has made a decision that appears to be more in the interests of the team than himself. He allowed the Orioles to leave him unprotected in the No- vember expansion draft so the club could protect fellow first baseman David Segui, and he now voluntarily has chosen to go to the minor leagues while Segui plays in his place.
"It's in my best interests given the situation," Davis said. "This will allow me to take the time to work out some flaws in my mechanics, and I will be able to do it in an atmosphere where I'll be able to experiment and work on things without it costing me or the ballclub."
That might be true, but it was unusual for a player of Davis' track record and experience to agree to a demotion so late in his career. It is indicative of his frustration at an offensive slump that has dropped his batting average to .177 and of his disappointment that he has not been able to be the impact player the Orioles thought they were getting when they acquired him in 1991.
If Davis had refused the assignment, the Orioles would have been left with only a couple of options. The club could have handed him his unconditional release (and been responsible for the remainder of his $3.8 million salary) or kept him on the bench. Neither possibility appealed to either side.
Davis confirmed that the club never threatened him with release.
"This was totally my decision," he said. "That wasn't even brought up. I had discussions with Frank [Robinson, assistant general manager], Roland [Hemond, general manager] and others. We talked to the players association, and I discussed this with my wife. We all agreed we wanted to do what is best for me and the team."
The move makes sense from a team standpoint. Davis has been reasonably healthy this season, but there have been times when seemed lost at the plate. Teammates and coaches say he still is showing enough strength and bat speed to re-establish himself as a dangerous hitter, but he has been unable to do that in what has become a negative major-league environment.
It had reached the point in Baltimore where Davis was booed heavily whenever he made an out at Camden Yards. He never complained about that, but it was obvious it was hurting him deeply. During the past few weeks, he twice had been seen on the field long after night games, sitting in the outfield and trying to sort things out.
The situation had gotten so bad that Davis apparently views the change of venue in a positive light.
"It's not a demotion or a rejection by the club by any means," he said. "It's a way for me to get some extra work. It's my willingness to do all I can to give the Baltimore Orioles my best effort. I've always given 100 percent on the field, but I've been falling short offensively."
Perhaps it was easier to accept under the terms that the club worked out with Davis and agent Robert Fraley. The club guaranteed in writing that Davis would be recalled to the major leagues after he played 20 games for the Red Wings. Davis apparently is optimistic that he'll be able to turn himself around over that period, but has the option of staying longer if necessary.
"I think I've played long enough to know what to do," he said. "This is a plan to move in a positive direction, and I'm taking the right step. This is not your ordinary assignment. It's a temporary assignment, a plan to get rid of the flaws in my offensive performance.
"It is in the best interests of the club as well, since David is playing well right now. So, instead of my just pinch hitting, it's a good time for me to work things out. It's just another step in trying to regain the form I'm comfortable with. I don't think I've really felt comfortable [at the plate] since I've been with the Orioles."