Notes: Davies determined to deliver

Notes: Davies ready, determined to deliver

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- It's been nearly two years since Kyle Davies burst upon the Major League scene in dominant fashion. And it's been nearly that long since he's given anybody definite reason to believe that he'll live up to his tremendous capabilities.

But while throwing during Monday morning's workout at Disney's Wide World of Sports complex, Davies provided some indication that he's put away his struggles in the past. No longer worrying about his surgically repaired right groin, the 23-year-old right-hander is once again proving why he was such a highly regarded prospect.

"You've got to have confidence to play the game, and he's getting it back," said Braves catcher Brian McCann, who served as Davies' batterymate in the Minors. "After he came back from the groin surgery last year, he wasn't the same guy."

After tearing his right groin while pitching on May 14, Davies was forced to miss 3 1/2 months of development. When he returned in September, he lacked confidence in his delivery and consequently struggled mightily.

In those five forgettable starts, he was 1-4 with a 13.06 ERA. During that horrid stretch that included 20 2/3 innings, he issued 16 walks and surrendered 41 hits. For those wondering, that equated to opponents producing a .423 on-base percentage.

"It felt like I was on the end of a bowling ball going toward the pins and I just couldn't stop it," said Davies, who believes the struggles were a product of him "over-thinking."

Having had the entire offseason to gain further confidence in his surgically repaired groin, Davies has returned to camp determined to prevent the mental aspect from hindering him in his attempt to win the fifth spot in Atlanta's rotation.

"I don't even feel it," Davies said. "I don't even think about it. It's one of those things that's not even in the back of my mind."

Braves manager Bobby Cox was one of the many who were impressed by what they saw from Davies on Monday.

"He threw really good today," Cox said. "I think it takes some time when you get cut on like that. He's had all the time that he needs. I think it's out of his head."

With a clear head, Davies now must aim to be the dominant pitcher many have projected him to be. He provided a glimpse during his first four career starts, in which he completed 24 1/3 innings and surrendered just two earned runs.

But since then, he's proven to simply be mediocre. Minus those first four starts he made back in 2005 and the five starts he made this past September, he's still just 7-8 with a 6.37 ERA.

"I feel like the experiences I've learned from the past couple of years are going to help me," Davies said. "I feel healthy. I feel good, and right now, I'm just ready for the season to start."

Boyer looking strong: At this time last year, Blaine Boyer was viewed as being an important cog in the Braves' bullpen. Now, since recovering from right shoulder surgery, he's come to camp simply hoping to win a spot in Atlanta's bullpen.

"He's fine," Cox said of Boyer, who underwent the surgical procedure last April. "He hasn't had any arm problems at all."

Boyer, who posted a 3.11 ERA in 43 appearances for the Braves in 2005, finds himself battling about six other pitchers to win one of the two available spots in the Braves bullpen.

"He threw good when he first came up," Cox said. "He would certainly give us more power out there."

Bulking up: Coming off a breakout season that enabled him to be mentioned among the game's elite catchers, McCann decided that he'd keep the same offseason workout program. But in an attempt to gain more strength, he increased the weights that he used during his lifting exercises.

Consequently, it appears that McCann has added some strength to his upper body. The 22-year-old All-Star catcher's shoulders appear to be wider than they were in 2006, when he hit .333 with 24 homers in 130 games.

"The older I get, the stronger I'm going to get," McCann said. "I'm still not to where I'm as strong as I can be."

If he continues to add mass, is he capable of being a hitter, who produces 30-plus homers and still maintains a .300-plus average on a regular basis?

"Time will tell," McCann said. "I'm not one of those guys who is going to tell you what I can do, because if you don't, it's a disappointment. I'm just going to go out there and compete. If it happens, it happens. Last year I didn't think I could hit 20 home runs. It's just one of those things that the less you think about it, the better it is."

The gang is nearly all here: Craig Wilson arrived in camp Monday, in time to take batting practice with some of his new Braves teammates. A few hours later, Andruw Jones, who spent this past weekend in Las Vegas, came in the clubhouse simply to deliver his equipment bag.

All Braves position players are required to report to camp by Tuesday, and the first full-squad workout will be held on Wednesday.

As of Monday afternoon, Jones and Edgar Renteria were the projected starters who hadn't participated in early camp workouts with their teammates.

Braves bits: Mike Hampton spent some of Sunday's Daytona 500 in the pit of his good friend Jimmie Johnson, who wrecked and finished 39th in the event that he won last year. ... Cox and his coaching staff joined general manager John Schuerholz and some of his staff members for a golf outing that was held Monday afternoon at the nearby Reunion Golf. ... Before Monday's workout, McCann visited with 14 kids who had been part of Bert's Big Adventure, a non-profit group that annually brings chronically and terminally-ill children to Disney World.

Mark Bowman is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.