Johnson OKs 1-year deal for $200,000

Orioles notes

March 03, 1991|By Peter Schmuck | Peter Schmuck,Sun Staff Correspondent

SARASOTA, Fla. -- Right-hander Dave Johnson, the winningest pitcher on the Baltimore Orioles staff last year, agreed to terms yesterday on a one-year contract worth $200,000.

Johnson earned $113,500 last season and will almost double his salary but figures to be one of the lowest-paid pitchers on the club. The contract also calls for a $15,000 bonus if he makes the All-Star team.

Because of his limited major-league service time, the club could have given him a lot less. He will not have real leverage until he is eligible for salary arbitration, which probably won't be until after the 1992 season.

"I'm not necessarily satisfied, but I'm happy with it, if that makes any sense," Johnson said. "I understand that while the club has control, it would be foolish to give you anything they don't have to."

Johnson was 13-9 with a 4.10 ERA last season and might have had an even better year if he hadn't missed several starts with an injured lower back.

"I'm happy," Johnson said. "I'm making more money than I ever thought I was going to make. Three years ago, I was making $30,000 in the minor leagues for working five months. I thought I was in heaven."

The Orioles have six players still unsigned -- Sam Horn, Randy Milligan, John Mitchell, Juan Bell, Mike Devereaux and Gregg Olson.

* Left-hander Jeff Ballard is suffering from elbow stiffness and will not throw batting practice today, but he says the problem is not related to the elbow injury that required surgery after the 1989 season.

"I've had some joint stiffness that's causing some irritation," Ballard said. "I'm not that concerned about it, because I've thrown so much already. I don't know of a pitcher who doesn't have some soreness at some point in the season."

Ballard had a lot of soreness last year. He came back quickly from a pair of arm operations and was miserable in between starts. He also lacked arm strength, which contributed to a frustrating first half.

"The surgery is not even on my mind now," he said. "That seems like such a long time ago. My arm strength is really good right now, but I told [pitching coach] Al Jackson that it might be best to skip batting practice once and get the stiffness out of the way while it's still early in the spring."

* Infielder Tim Hulett is almost up to full speed after spraining an ankle last week. He was back taking batting practice only two days after the sprain and took infield yesterday. The only thing he isn't doing is running.

* Left-hander Mike Flanagan has been complaining of soreness in his right foot after nearly two weeks of spring training workouts, but he threw batting practice yesterday.

Flanagan has a history of spring training arch soreness, but trainer Richie Bancells said it is something that usually passes before the start of the regular season.

* Front-office officials went to Fort Myers to inspect the Minnesota Twins' new spring training facility Friday on the same trip that took them to several potential training sites in Naples.

"That's a beautiful camp at Fort Myers," general manager Roland Hemond said. "You'd have to be envious of a facility like that."

There still is no word on when the Orioles will break ground on their permanent facility.

* The crowds thinned after Jim Palmer threw batting practice yesterday, but left-hander Paul Kilgus followed him to the mound and threw well.

"Our minor-league people saw him and recommended him very highly," manager Frank Robinson said.

Kilgus could end up in long relief, but Robinson is not pigeonholing anyone yet.

"There's plenty of time to think about roles," he said. "We're just looking at him as a pitcher."

* Glenn Davis took batting practice again yesterday and showed off the big swing that made him one of the best power hitters in the National League.

"I'm just glad I didn't park my car in the front row of the parking lot," said Palmer, who also had to be glad that Davis wasn't in the group that faced him.

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