Former Orioles first baseman Glenn Davis will attempt to resume his major-league career with the New York Mets, who signed him to a minor-league contract yesterday and invited him to spring training as a non-roster player.
Davis, whose three seasons with the Orioles became a continuing physical nightmare, will compete with former Orioles outfielder Joe Orsulak for playing time at first base. Terms of the contract were not disclosed, but he likely will sign an incentive-laden, one-year contract if he earns a place on the Mets' 25-man Opening Day roster.
The 33-year-old infielder was released by the Orioles on Sept. 8, nearly three injury-plagued years after the club traded promising youngsters Pete Harnisch, Steve Finley and Curt Schilling to the Houston Astros to acquire him. The Orioles paid him nearly $10 million over those three seasons, but Davis played in a total of 185 of 463 possible regular-season games.
He was batting .177 with one home run and nine RBIs in 113 at-bats when the Orioles finally gave up on him, which may explain why Orioles fans roared in approval when news of his release was displayed on the club's video scoreboard. He also was booed frequently during his final season, but Davis did not take any parting shots when he left Baltimore and he did not criticize the Orioles during a conference call with the New York media yesterday.
"I'm glad the chapter in Baltimore is closed," Davis said, "but I wish what went on there had turned out better. I don't really have any bitterness [toward the fans], but I was very hurt by that. Possibly that could be one of the factors in the way I performed."
Of course, the major factor was his poor health. Davis suffered a freak neck injury during spring training in 1991 and missed much of his first season with a damaged spinal accessory nerve that sapped the strength from his right shoulder. He was limited to designated hitter duty for most of 1992 after suffering back spasms at the end of spring training.
The 1993 season was his last chance to make something positive happen in Baltimore, but it unraveled with a poor start and a pair of mishaps that limited his playing time.
He suffered a broken jaw when he was punched by a bouncer outside a nightclub in Virginia Beach, Va., during a minor-league assignment in June. Then, before he even returned to the major-league roster, he was hit in the head by a foul ball while sitting in the dugout during a game Aug. 1. The second incident had no long-lasting effects, but it appeared to have a psychological impact on both Davis and the team.
"The injuries just kept me from being Glenn Davis or the type of player I could be," said Davis, who averaged 28 homers in six seasons with the Astros. "It was the first time I had ever been injured and -- to be honest -- I didn't know how to handle it.
"In a way, I've been stripped of everything I've earned in the game," he said. "One good year under my belt will put [it all] to rest."
He referred to the entire Baltimore experience as a "nightmare" yesterday, and he probably would get no disagreement from the Orioles. During his final week with the team, he engaged in a clubhouse screaming match with manager Johnny Oates that helped convince both Davis and the team that it would be best for all to part company.