Optimistic Davis joins teammates in Anaheim Treatment going well; outfielder still hopes to play again in 1997

THE BALTIMORE SUN

ANAHEIM, Calif. -- Outfielder Eric Davis rejoined the club at Anaheim Stadium yesterday and said he intends to return to Baltimore soon after completing the first phase of chemotherapy 11 days from now.

"Everything is going tremendously well," Davis said, who has completed the fourth week of a 22-week treatment program aimed at preventing the recurrence of colon cancer. "It takes everything I have not to come back and play right now."

No one is rushing him, but he expects to begin some light work off the batting tee next week and hopes to be expanding his workouts as soon as the first six-week segment of the therapy is complete.

"I'll have two weeks off then and that will allow me to go full out," he said. "Chemo takes a lot out of you as far as strength, so we'll have to wait and see."

Davis, who will take the second phase of the chemotherapy at Johns Hopkins Hospital beginning in early September, has said all along that he wants to return to action and help the club get to the World Series. The progress of his treatment has made that possibility seem far more real, but he isn't making any predictions yet.

"I don't want to spook myself," he said. "What I have in my mind, I'll keep to myself. I'm going into it with an open mind. If it goes well enough that I can come back, so be it. If not, I'm going to do everything I can to support my teammates and work real hard this winter to get back to where I want to be."

Davis' contract includes a vesting option for the 1998 season, but owner Peter Angelos already has said the club will exercise that option regardless of what happens the rest of this year.

The veteran outfielder bristled when a reporter asked him why it was important to rejoin the team in Oakland and Anaheim before he is ready to begin working toward his return to the lineup.

"Because they're paying me, that's why," Davis said, "and because I'm a part of this team."

Mills building confidence

Right-hander Alan Mills pitched very well in both games against the Seattle Mariners earlier this week, and manager Davey Johnson signaled his growing confidence in Mills by putting him in progressively tougher situations.

"I'm getting close," said Mills, whose season was interrupted when he pinched a nerve in his neck after a freak collision with catcher Lenny Webster, "but I don't feel the ball exploding out of my hand. I might feel that for one pitch warming up or one or two pitches during the game, then I don't feel it again."

That wasn't apparent on Wednesday night, when he retired Alex Rodriguez and Ken Griffey in the bottom of the eighth and got the Orioles through the heart of the Mariners lineup at a pivotal juncture in a tie game.

"My confidence is increasing," Mills said. "I understand why he's using me in a limited way."

Around the horn

Johnson said that Jeffrey Hammonds, who has been hobbled by a sore Achilles' tendon, continues to improve. He was out of the starting lineup last night for the fifth time in the past six games, but apparently will be back tonight. Tale of two hitters: B. J. Surhoff has hit in 11 of his past 14 games (.345, 20-for-58). Rafael Palmeiro has two hits in his last 37 at-bats, dropping his average from .271 to .253. Eddie Murray singled in the ninth inning to tie Nap Lajoie for 10th on baseball's all-time hit list with 3,252. Mike Bordick has hit 26 home runs in 3,006 career at-bats.

O's double up: 2 splits in Sept.

The Orioles have rescheduled two rainouts against the Cleveland Indians as day-night doubleheaders at home on Sept. 15 and 16.

The June 1 rainout will be made up on Sept. 15 at 1: 35 p.m. The regularly scheduled game remains at 7: 35 p.m. The June 2 rainout will be played Sept. 16 at 12: 05 p.m. The regularly scheduled game has been moved to 6: 05 p.m.

Fans unable to attend the makeup games may exchange their June 1-2 tickets for another home game, subject to availability. Exchanges may be made at the Camden Yards box office, Orioles stores or through the mail. Exchanges must be completed before Aug. 29.

Fans living beyond a 75-mile radius of Camden Yards may mail in June 1-2 tickets for refunds by Aug. 29.

Gates open at 12: 05 p.m. and 6: 35 p.m. for games of Sept. 15 and 11: 05 a.m. and 5: 05 p.m. for games of Sept. 16. Oriole Park will be cleared after each of the day games.

Hits and misses

On the field: Cal Ripken had three hits and was credited with a sacrifice fly on a ball that was dropped by right fielder Tim Salmon in the fourth inning. Ripken has hit in 11 of his past 13 games and is batting .383 over that span.

In the dugout: Manager Davey Johnson made a few more changes in the starting lineup last night, moving B.J. Surhoff up to third and dropping Rafael Palmeiro into the fifth spot.

In the clubhouse: Johnson talked before the game about the challenge of facing knuckleball pitchers. "You hate to face them any time, because what they are doing is not normal. Even the fastest knuckleballer is throwing 75 miles per hour and you're used to hitting in the 90s."

Pub Date: 8/09/97

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