ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. - Steve Clevenger, optioned to Triple-A Norfolk today, cleaned out his locker and left Tropicana Field. He wasn’t available to reporters.
Clevenger was removed from the 25-man roster to make room for Chris Davis, who’s playing in his first regular season game since Sept. 10 in Boston.
“It feels good,” Davis said. “Obviously, watching the 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. 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.”
Is it a different mindset?
“There’s no doubt,” he said. “The perspective, I think you realize when something like the suspension comes up, it’s really a privilege to be here and a blessing to play at this level each and every day. I mean, we work hard day in and day out to prepare ourselves and to give ourselves the best opportunity to succeed, but at the end of the day it’s a privilege to be here and be a part of this team.”
Is there extra motivation after missing the playoffs?
“I mean, that’s something that’s been a goal of mine since I got here,” he said. “I was fortunate enough in 2012 to be a part of a team that went on a magical run and got to play a little bit in the postseason. Kind of experienced that the first time in a long time here. It was tough watching the team play last year and obviously lose in the ALCS. That’s something that I think is expected, not only from our fans, but from the guys in the clubhouse to be there every year, and I’m looking to get back there.”
Is this the most excited he’s been for a game in a while?
“It’s close,” he said. “I feel like opening day kind of is special just because what it means to everybody. It was important to me to be able to open up at home. 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. I was glad the way the guys competed yesterday and got the win. I’m glad to be back and be in the mix again.”
Does Sept. 10 seem long ago?
“Yeah, it does,” he said. “Of course, Buck (Showalter) is like, ‘Do you know when the last time you played a major league baseball game was?’ Yeah, on Thursday. It seems like a long time ago. 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.”
Is it anticlimactic because he played all spring?
“I don’t know if you want to call it being fortunate, but I was definitely lucky with the way things kind of timed out only having to miss one game,” Davis said. “The fact that they made the postseason and went so deep was huge for me. I feel good, I felt good all spring. Feel like I’m swinging the bat well. There are still things I need to work on.”
Has he been heckled by fans on the road and does he expect it tonight before a small gathering at Tropicana Field?
“Don’t sell them short,” Davis said. “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. I think that kind of prepared me to go out there and play, whether they are cheering for you or against you. You can go out there and ask any big leaguer, no matter what city you are in, there are going to be people that are rooting for their hometown team and against you. It’s part of it.
“Clearwater was fun. Tampa. There were some places where the fans knew what was going on and got after it. But that’s anywhere. Whether I had failed a drug test or not, that’s always what people are going to come after you in the sport.”
Is it a bonus now that he won’t have to answer suspension questions?
“I hope so,” he said. “I’m excited to put all that behind me and move forward and start over again this year.”
Is he taking Vyvanse, which he has been prescribed instead of Adderall?
“It’s fully in,” he said. “Part of having a TUE is having to take your medications. If you don’t, you lose it and everything I’ve gone through is for nothing.”