Wednesday, March 04, 2009
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Royals' Davies works construction during offseason

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[March 04, 2009]  SURPRISE, Ariz. (AP) -- Kyle Davies is a throwback to what most athletes would call the bad old days, a dinosaur from long ago when ballplayers would spend their offseason working.

Yes, working.

Doing honest, show-up-on-time-and-do-what-the-boss-says labor. Before free agency, color television and guaranteed seven-figure contracts, most major leaguers couldn't afford to just laze the offseason away.

RestaurantDavies, an up-and-coming major league pitcher for Kansas City, had no need of extra cash last winter. He'd just been paid $427,000 for the 2008 season.

Yet, there he was, pouring concrete, digging ditches, operating a jackhammer under the Georgia sun.

"What am I going to do, sit on the couch every day? You make yourself lazy," he said.

This year's contract guarantees the promising right-hander $1.3 million. But shortly after the season is over, he figures to rejoin the guys who sweat and toil on his dad's construction crew.

"It keeps you in shape, keeps you off the couch," Davies said. "The offseason can get really long. You can sit there and think about way too much. Instead of doing that, I just got up early in the morning and went to work."

He's no stranger to construction work. Since he was about 12 or 13, Davies has spent most of his summers working for Davies General Contracting near Atlanta.


But while he may be the son of the owner, Davies asks for nor receives any special favors.

"I pour concrete, dig ditches, lay pipe, get on the machines, pick up garbage," he said. "I do whatever they tell me to do."

Digging ditches and picking up garbage is a good way for Davies to stay in touch with his working-class roots.

"I know we make a lot of money in this game. Major League ballplayers make a lot of money," he said. "For me, it's not the money. There's a satisfaction of seeing something you built with your own hands. You had to work hard to get there, and that's the satisfaction (construction workers) get from putting plumbing in a building, watching the building from the ground up come together. It's pretty cool."

Much of the time, Hiram Davies' company constructs buildings for fast-food places like McDonald's.

"If you ask me what I'd rather do, of course I'd rather sit on the couch," Davies said. "But you can only do that for a week. I can't do it any longer. Everybody's a little different. I can't sit for three months."

If his numbers from late last season are a clue to the future, the 26-year-old Davies may soon be making too much money to risk injury by operating heavy machinery.

After deciding to be more aggressive and just "attack the plate," he went 5-0 in September, by far his best stretch since breaking into the majors with Atlanta in 2005. So far in two spring outings, using the same mind-set, the streak has continued. He's given up three hits in five innings, with three strikeouts and no runs.

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The Royals are counting on him being their No. 3 starter behind Gil Meche and Zack Greinke.

"It's very encouraging," said manager Trey Hillman.

"He's picked up right where he left off at the end of the season. I'd still like to see a little more consistency, specifically with two outs, to where he doesn't let his guard down and his focus down.

"But that's something he knows he needs to get better at. I think by the end of camp he'll be rolling with that as well if he just stays consistent with what he's done since late August last year."

Before last season ended, Davies asked his skipper if he'd have a problem having a construction worker on the roster.

"I thought that was outstanding," Hillman said. "I just told him I recommended he stay away from the late-night beer drinking with the rest of the construction workers and take care of his body. I think he feels like that brings a little edge to him, that grinder's attitude and that blue collar thing."

In spite of the satisfaction he takes from building something with his hands, Davies is not at all casual toward his still-developing career in baseball.

"My dad will always say, 'If you don't make it in baseball, you can always come back here and dig ditches,'" he said with a grin.

"So I really want to make it in baseball."

[Associated Press; By DOUG TUCKER]

Copyright 2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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