Angel first baseman Alvin Davis saw his past and his future this week, getting the chance to relive his success with the Mariners and a chance to recreate that success in Japan.
Davis, unable to regain the swing that brought him 160 home runs and 667 runs batted in with Seattle, was released Friday so that he can join the Kintetsu Buffaloes of the Japanese Pacific League. The Angels are responsible for the remainder of his $800,000 salary until his agreement with the Osaka-based team is official.
Davis said his contract, which is for one year with a mutual one-year option, will make it worthwhile to move his wife and three young children from their Riverside home. "I'm not going to leave the cradle if there's not more milk in the bottle outside, am I?" he said, smiling.
The release of Davis, 31, follows by three days the release of 36-year-old catcher Lance Parrish, whose $2.25-million contract will be paid by the Angels. Club president Richard Brown said the moves were made to open spots for youngsters and not for financial reasons.
"This is not a clearing out. It's an opportunity that came across, and Dan (O'Brien, the senior vice president for baseball operations) felt duty-bound to present it to Alvin," Brown said. "Don't mistake this as one grandiose plan. We do have a plan, but that's to build from within. This is not a money-saving thing."
Posters distributed by the Mariners on Thursday depicting Davis hitting a home run were the Angels' only evidence of Davis' power. He had no homers and 16 RBIs in 40 games and was batting .250.
"I'm doing this for the opportunity to go and play, the opportunity to really have something solidified for next year," Davis said. "When I weigh all the circumstances as far as my family is concerned, I'm not anxious to pack up and move halfway across the world. But I think it's worth it, an opportunity I can't pass up at this stage of my career."
Angel interim Manager John Wathan said Lee Stevens will become the regular first baseman, a move initially delayed by Stevens' sore right wrist and more recently by his .194 average. Davis' place on the roster was taken by outfielder John Morris, who was on rehabilitation assignment with triple-A Edmonton after suffering gastritis.
Davis, who learned of the Japanese team's interest in him on Sunday, had to decide by Friday for the Buffaloes to meet a league signing deadline.
Davis still hopes to return to the major leagues.
"I have peace with that. That was one of the things I thought about, 'Am I through being a major league player?' " he said. "I take the attitude that if I go over there and do well, I can go back next year to the Angels and say, 'I found my swing.' "