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Chris Davis returns, says 'a lot has changed' for the better

Chris Davis returns, says 'a lot has changed' for the better
Orioles slugger Chris Davis returns from his 25-game suspension Tuesday. (Carlos Osorio / Associated Press)

Chris Davis hasn't played a big league game since Sept. 10, but for the Orioles slugger it seems longer.

"It seems like a long time ago," said Davis, who was in the Orioles lineup, batting fifth and acting as the designated hitter Tuesday. "A lot has gone on, a lot has changed, and I think a lot for the better to be honest with you. I wasn't in a good place mentally last year. Physically, I wasn't in a good place. It's nice to put that behind me and start fresh again."

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Davis was reinstated to the active roster from the restricted list Tuesday, completing last year's 25-game suspension for failing an amphetamines test, specifically for using the attention deficit hyperactivity disorder drug Adderall without a therapeutic use exemption.

It was the second time he tested positive for the drug in 2014, triggering the suspension. He during spring training but his last regular season game was at Fenway Park on Sept. 10, when he went 1-for-5 with a run scored.

Orioles manager Buck Showalter literally had someone count the days since Sept. 10, the last day Davis last played for the team in a game that counted.

"I had somebody look it up. It's been 209 days since he played in a major league game," Showalter said. "I know he's excited. So are we to have him back and it's been a long road for him. He'd be the first to tell you it was self-inflicted, but I don't think anybody here doesn't think he paid a dear price for it."

Davis could not be at the field when the Orioles clinched their first division title in 17 years – and couldn't play at all in the 2014 postseason. The Orioles' run ended with a four-game sweep by the Kansas City Royals, leaving one game remaining on Davis' suspension, so he had to sit out Opening Day on Monday at Tropicana Field.

"Obviously, watching [Monday's] game, everybody's having all the fun, hitting home runs, scoring a bunch of runs. It's good to be a part of it today," Davis said. "I missed these guys, even though I wasn't really gone. Still hanging around with them on the field, just being around with them and competing. Wearing that uniform, it's exciting."

Davis went 0-for-3 and was hit by a pitch.

He said he's glad he won't miss the team's home opener at Camden Yards – which is scheduled for Friday against the Toronto Blue Jays.

"It was important to me to be able to open up at home," he said. "That's something I definitely looked at the schedule at the end of last year to see where we started. I was almost kind of relieved to see we started on the road. I didn't want to miss the home opener. That's pretty special for me."

Coming back from suspension on the road means he could hear some heckling Tuesday. But Davis said since hitting 53 homers in 2013, he is used to being in the crosshairs of opposing fans who have accused him of using steroids. When reminded that Tampa Bay Rays fans aren't known for their vitriol, Davis quipped, "Don't sell them short."

"I think I kind of have to take what they give me. One of the biggest things for me was going through 2013, all the false accusations and having to hear all that stuff about steroids because I was having success," said Davis, who had 26 homers and batted .196 last year. "I think that kind of prepared me to go out there and play, whether they are cheering for you or against you."

Davis had a therapeutic use exemption for Adderall in the past, but didn't apply for the drug in 2012, was rejected in 2013 and didn't apply again in 2014. This year he has an exemption for, and has been taking Vyvanse, another ADHD drug that is slower to activate and lasts longer than Adderall.

"Part of having a TUE is having to take your medications," he said. "If you don't, you lose it and everything I've gone through is for nothing."

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