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Angels Sign Seattle Free Agent Alvin Davis : Baseball: Former Mariner agrees to a guaranteed salary of $800,000, which is more than $1 million less than he received last year. He may play first base.

February 14, 1992|ROSS NEWHAN | TIMES STAFF WRITER

The Angels, looking for insurance if Lee Stevens' injured wrist proves to be a problem, signed former Seattle Mariner free agent Alvin Davis on Thursday.

With no apparent options aside from the possibility of playing in Japan, Davis agreed to a guarantee of $800,000, which is more than $1 million less than what he received in salary and bonuses in the final year of a three-year contract with Seattle.

His 1992 contract includes appearance bonuses that can increase his salary to $1.6 million. The Angels have an option on 1993.

"I was excited about the free- agent process but disappointed there wasn't more interest," Davis said. "However, two of my best friends, Phil Bradley and Jim Presley, went through the same thing, so it wasn't totally unexpected.

"Phil is going to the Montreal camp with a minor league contract, so in that context it worked out great for me.

"I was born and raised in Riverside. I used to go to Anaheim Stadium to watch Nolan Ryan and Frank Tanana pitch. The Angels are my hometown team. This is a dream come true, and it's especially exciting since I'm only 31 and have a chance to be around for a while."

After averaging 21 homers and 85 runs batted in with a .289 batting average in his first seven seasons, Davis hit .221 with 12 homers and 69 RBIs last year.

"Those are my numbers and I won't attempt to make excuses for them," said Davis, the American League's 1984 rookie of the year. "The kind of year I had, it's not surprising there wasn't more interest."

Davis was a designated hitter the past two seasons after five at first base.

The Mariners made no attempt to keep Davis. By not offering arbitration, they could not re-sign him until May 1.

"I still don't know if they have a budget for baseball," Davis said of Seattle's uncertain ownership situation. "It's hard for them to make a decision right now. Finances obviously played a part in my future there."

Said former Seattle Manager Jim Lefebvre: "Alvin is too good a hitter not to bounce back. He was ready for a change and should benefit by it."

Davis agreed, saying it does not matter if he plays first base or is the designated hitter. "I have experience at both," he said. "I just want to put last year behind me and help the Angels win."

Davis joins the list of Angels who are candidates to play first base, DH and the outfield. Included are Von Hayes, Hubie Brooks and Stevens, who will get the first chance to replace Wally Joyner at first base, providing his wrist permits it.

Stevens aggravated the injury in September, experienced soreness when he resumed batting practice in January, had a cast removed last week and should be 100% for spring training, according to Dr. Lewis Yocum.

However, senior vice president Whitey Herzog said he did not want to be "left in the bind" by what is a "wait-and-see" predicament involving both Stevens and Brooks, coming off neck surgery.

"I've never seen Davis play, and you worry that his stats may have been inflated by the Seattle ballpark, but I've talked to a number of managers and other baseball people and they all say he's a professional hitter, the type hitter who gets the runner in from third base."

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