Johnson retains confidence, if not winning record

The Inside Stuff

April 29, 1991|By Bill Tanton

Dave Johnson, who pitches for the Orioles tonight in the series opener with Seattle at Memorial Stadium, is an example of statistics not always telling it like it is.

"I'm feeling great, and I've been throwing the ball well," says Johnson, who was the Orioles' leading winner last year with a 13-9 record. "But I realize the stats don't show that."

Johnson, of Middle River, has a 1-2 record and an earned run average of 8.79 after three starts. But he can explain that.

"I threw well in the first two starts and then I had the one bad outing in Chicago," he says, "but that was the night we had the two-hour rain delay.

"I thought when I went back out there that I'd do fine. Last year I sat through a one-hour rain delay and when I went back out my stuff was great.

"Then we had another delay of 30 minutes and when I went back my stuff was even better. But that night in Chicago I had nothing."

On a club that needs pitching stability as badly as the Orioles do, it is hoped Johnson's confidence in himself is justified.

"With me, the whole thing is strike one," Johnson says. "If I can get strike one I feel I have a chance to win."

* Another local favorite, Mike Flanagan, has been little short of sensational in his return to the O's this year. Mike has pitched eight times in relief. In 13 2/3 innings, he has compiled a 1.98 ERA. Opponents are batting .159 against him.

This leads many fans to believe Flanagan deserves a starting assignment. But you know what? The most dispassionate person in town on that subject appears to be Flanagan himself.

"It doesn't matter whether I relieve or start," says the 39-year-old consummate pro. "It's not my call."

* Speaking of old pros, Flanagan enjoyed seeing his old Orioles batterymate, Rick Dempsey, here over the weekend -- even though the Brewers took two out of three from the O's.

Dempsey, now the backup to Milwaukee catcher B.J. Surhoff, caught Flanagan here from 1976 to 1986. They combined for one win over the Pirates in the '79 World Series and one over the Phillies in '83.

"The relationship between a pitcher and catcher is special," Flanagan was saying after the Orioles' 5-4 win yesterday. "You have a bond with all your teammates from a championship club. But with your catcher it's special.

"It was even better seeing Rick when we were in Milwaukee. Out there the two bullpens are together."

* There is every reason for concern, if not panic, over the condition of the Orioles' Glenn Davis, who went on the disabled list Friday with an injury to the spinal accessory nerve in his neck.

Davis was to be examined by doctors in New York today and has planned trips to California and perhaps Toronto to see other specialists.

Davis says he injured himself swinging a bat in an exhibition game in Florida March 12. There is talk now of possible season-ending surgery, though that won't be ascertained until Davis has made the medical rounds.

From a selfish standpoint, the Orioles can thank their lucky stars they didn't sign Davis to the long-term contract it would take to keep him in Baltimore beyond this season.

As it is, even if Davis' 1991 season is over, his $3.2 million salary is costing the club slightly more than a quarter of a million dollars -- $266,666 -- for each of the dozen games he has played.

* There is no panic on the part of O's pitching coach Al Jackson, however, concerning Ben McDonald.

Big Ben, who missed the first 10 days of the season on the disabled list, made his second start yesterday and lasted only 2 2/3 innings, the shortest stint of his career. He gave up nine hits and four runs, all earned.

Says Jackson of McDonald's plight: "He's still in spring training."

* Monsignor Martin Schwallenberg, who says Mass for the players at Memorial Stadium before Sunday games, also was celebrating something else yesterday. It was his 71st birthday.

The practice of having the monsignor come in to say Mass was initiated years ago by a former Orioles front office man who went on to work for the Mets and is now general manager of the San Diego Padres, Joe McIlvaine.

* The criticism, heard often lately, that the Orioles appear lifeless reached a new low Saturday night. Milwaukee's Surhoff hit a pop fly that hit and killed a pigeon. Quipped a press box wit: "Now there are 10 dead Birds on the field."

Baltimore Sun Articles
Please note the green-lined linked article text has been applied commercially without any involvement from our newsroom editors, reporters or any other editorial staff.