After withstanding his worst nightmare, Davis insists he'll come back for more

THE BALTIMORE SUN

The date was March 7. The place was the Huggins/Stengel spring training complex in St. Petersburg, Fla. The subject: Glenn Davis' last stand.

That was the day the Orioles' first baseman said that he might retire at the end of the 1993 season if he continued to suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous medical misfortune.

"My wife and I have talked about that," he said that day. "I'm not going to put my family through that again. But that doesn't mean I'm throwing in the towel. I want to win more than anyone else in this clubhouse. If this is my last year, I want to go out with a ring on my finger."

Since then, Davis has been optioned to the minor leagues, suffered a broken jaw when he was hit by a professional boxer and last week was sent to the Shock Trauma Center by a vicious foul ball that left him unconscious in the dugout tunnel at Camden Yards.

It would appear that he has met the retirement criteria that he outlined this spring, but Davis looks at his most recent run of misfortune as a challenge that he can't pass up. Now, he says he wants to play more than ever and feels certain he'll be back next season.

"These injuries have, in one way, lit a fire under me," Davis said. "Call it a wake-up call. I believe that my motivation and desire has become more intense. I'm still determined not to let this pull me down."

In the near term, he is hoping to get back into shape in time to give the Orioles one more productive bat in September. Beyond that, he intends to continue his baseball career.

"I still want, more than ever, to accomplish something here," he said, "even if it's something little. I still think I can help this team in one way or another."

If not this team, then whatever club is willing to take a chance on signing him for next year. Davis still has enough of a track record to warrant a chance to reclaim his big swing, but he almost certainly will have to do it somewhere else.

"I believe that I can still hit 25 to 30 home runs and drive in 90 to 100 runs," he said. "But to do that, you have to play regularly. I still believe I can. I believe I can put up some numbers.

"Maybe a fresh start is the answer, but I'm not looking that far ahead. My goal is to do something in '93. We still have a lot of

games left."

Nothing to fear but Fehr

Major-league owners are scheduled to meet this week in Wisconsin to try to hammer out a revenue-sharing proposal, but players union director Donald Fehr isn't holding his breath.

Fehr and the membership of the Major League Baseball Players Association have been waiting for some kind of word since the owners voted last December to reopen the collective bargaining agreement. Now, with just a few months left before the contract runs its course, the union may have to force the issue.

"The longer we go on hearing nothing from them, the more likely that it becomes extremely difficult," Fehr said. "They are not moving at all."

A few weeks ago he hinted at the possibility of a players strike in September, apparently hoping to shock the owners into setting the collective bargaining process in motion. There have been no direct threats, but many of the owners believe that Fehr is prepared to shut down the season.

"If that's true, what are they going to do about it?" Fehr said. "They have taken zero steps to try and avoid it. It's reasonably clear to me that there are at least some owners who would be happy to have it [a strike]."

It seems unlikely that the players will strike, but that is the only power play available to them at this point. If they let the opportunity pass, the owners will be in a better financial position to lock them out next year.

Just the fax

Baseball owners were reluctant to comment on the $173 million bid that Peter Angelos and his ownership group made to buy the Orioles on Monday, but a brief fax that arrived in club president Larry Lucchino's office soon after the bankruptcy auction probably summed up their reaction.

It came from Los Angeles Dodgers owner Peter O'Malley -- a single sheet of Dodgers letterhead with a single word to sum up his reaction to the record price.

"Wow!"

Extollin' Nolan

Let's get the moral issue out of the way right now, just in case there are any kids in the audience: Fighting is wrong. Hand-to-hand combat is not the appropriate way to settle a personal dispute. Negotiation and conciliation is the best and most mature way to deal with a disagreement.

That said, how about the way Nolan Ryan, 46, pummeled Chicago White Sox third baseman Robin Ventura on Wednesday? Ventura, 26, got far more than he bargained for when he charged the mound in retaliation for a high fastball that hit him on the arm. Ryan put him in a headlock and delivered six solid shots to the head before being overrun by both teams.

It was a unanimous decision. Ryan won the fight and was allowed to remain in the game. Ventura never really threw a punch, but was thrown out for charging the mound.

Thank God he's a country boy

Orioles right-hander Rick Sutcliffe wasn't surprised to see Ryan take control of the situation, not considering what the future Hall of Famer does in his spare time. Ryan owns a ranch in Alvin, Texas, and still works it himself.

"He looked like he was wrestling a steer," Sutcliffe said.

Sutcliffe wasn't the only one to come to that conclusion. Columnist Jim Reeves of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram made a similar analogy:

H

"Now we know that the old man can punch more than cows."

Tough turnaround

The Milwaukee Brewers have an excellent chance to rate the dubious distinction of becoming only the sixth team in major-league history to win 90 or more games one season and lose 90 or more the next.

Here are the frightful five who did it in the past:

* The Philadelphia Athletics won 99 games in 1914 and lost 109 games the next year -- which wasn't easy to do in a 154-game format.

* The Chicago White Sox won 92 games in 1920 and lost 96 in * The White Sox won 90 in 1977 and lost 90 in 1978.

* The California Angels dropped 92 games in 1983 after winning the AL West title with 93 victories the year before.

* The most recent team to do it was the 1992 Los Angeles Dodgers, losing 99 games after a 93-win season in 1991.

The Brewers didn't help themselves with four losses in %o Baltimore. They entered the weekend needing to go 31-24 the rest of the way to avoid their 90th loss.

"We've not shown that we're capable of that to this point," manager Phil Garner said.

Trivia quiz

What pitcher entered the weekend with the highest 1993 winning percentage (at least five decisions) of any former Oriole?

Rickey deal revisited

The Oakland Athletics apparently made several attempts to negotiate a contract extension with outfielder Rickey Henderson before he was traded to the Toronto Blue Jays. But Henderson's insistence on a long-term, adjustable-rate contract made him expendable.

Henderson reportedly was asking for a three- to five-year deal that would have guaranteed that his salary would at least equal the highest salary on the team throughout the term of the contract. He was looking for an initial salary that was equal to the highest on the club (Ruben Sierra) and a clause that allowed for his salary to rise any time someone signed for more.

Instead, the A's let him go for a pitching prospect -- Steve Karsay -- that they project to join Todd Van Poppel and minor-league prospect Miguel Jimenez as the nucleus of the club's rotation of the future.

Another tough turnaround

The A's lost their 58th game of the year on July 31, equaling the number of games they lost during the entire 1988 season, then quickly recorded loss No. 59 to equal the total for all of 1990. They are well on their way to their first losing season since 1986.

Trivia answer

The best winning percentage by a former Oriole with at least five decisions belongs to rookie Richie Lewis, who has a 4-1 record in 35 relief appearances with the Florida Marlins. There are, however, two other former Orioles with better winning percentages this year -- Jeff Ballard, who is 2-0 with the Pittsburgh Pirates, and Paul Kilgus, who was 1-0 with the St. Louis Cardinals before going on the disabled list.

GLOVE STORY

Baseball's All-Star defensive team, based on fielding percentage and eligibility for league leadership (statistics through Wednesday):

Position .. .. Player, team .. .. .. Errors .. .. .. Chances .. .. .. Pct.

First base .. .. David Segui, Balt. .. 2 .. .. .. .. .. 818 .. .. .. .998

Second base .. .. Jose Lind, K.C. .. ..1 .. .. .. .. .. 394 .. .. .. .997

Shortstop .. .. ..Jay Bell, Pitt. .. ..8 .. .. .. .. .. 535 .. .. .. .985

Third base.. ..Steve Buechele, Chi. .. 4 .. .. .. .. .. 213 .. .. .. .981

Outfield .. .. Darren Lewis, S.F. .. ..0 .. .. .. .. .. 260 .. .. .. 1.000

Outfield .. .. Brett Butler, L.A. .. ..0 .. .. .. .. .. 241 .. .. .. 1.000

Outfield .. .. Ken Griffey, Sea. .. .. 0 .. .. .. .. .. 218 .. .. .. 1.000

Catcher.. .. ..Tony Pena, Bos. .. .. ..1 .. .. .. .. .. 530 .. .. .. ..998

Pitcher.. .. ..Doug Drabek, Hou. .. .. 0 .. .. .. .. .. .36 .. .. .. 1.000

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