Personnel moves show confusion isn't confined to playing field

Orioles notebook

May 21, 1991|By Jim Henneman

DETROIT -- It isn't just on the field that the Orioles have been confusing. The off-field moves are sometimes just as baffling.

In dire need of a rested arm for their beleaguered bullpen, the Orioles summoned Kevin Hickey, who had pitched 2 1/3 innings for their Double A farm club the night before. The lefthander went the same distance in relief of Bob Milacki last night, but that wasn't nearly enough.

Jeff Ballard, who went 2 2/3 innings as the starter the day before, had to finish the game when Mark Williamson was clubbed for five earned runs in 1 1/3 innings. Ballard at least was able to provide some semblance of order to the proceedings, not to mention needed relief for the bullpen, by pitching 3 2/3 scoreless innings.

Adding to the mystique of yesterday's transactions was the optioning of Jeff McKnight to Rochester. Technically McKnight, not originally scheduled to be part of the roster shuffle, surrendered his spot to Hickey. But in reality it was David Segui who replaced the switch-hitting McKnight.

Segui had been summoned hastily from Rochester on Sunday, as an insurance policy in case outfielder Mike Devereaux might have to go on the disabled list. Then it was determined that Devereaux would need only a couple of days off to rest a slightly pulled groin muscle.

But pitcher Dave Johnson ended up on the disabled list with the same injury and, with Segui handy, the decision was made to get him into the lineup to see if he could help the ailing Orioles. This had every indication of the out-of-sight-out-of-mind theory working in reverse.

That resulted in McKnight, who had gone 1-for-3 with a walk as the starting leftfielder Sunday, being sent back to Rochester.

When asked how McKnight ultimately fit into the confusion scenario, manager Frank Robinson said, "Because we needed a pitcher and somebody had to go."

But that doesn't explain why the Orioles could get a backup player for Devereaux to Baltimore on Sunday, but couldn't get a pitcher to replace Johnson, who went on the disabled list the same night Devereaux was hurt. Or why McKnight, who had become almost a semi-regular, got the gate.

"It had nothing to do with the way he performed," admitted Robinson. "I still think he can play a role up here -- if not with this club, with somebody else."

If McKnight was confused by the sudden turn of events (and if he wasn't, he was one of a chosen few), he also was philosophical. "I would like to have done better," he said. "I feel like I did all right [.241 in nine games], but not great.

"It's the nature of the game," McKnight said of his reassignment. "They needed a pitcher and I don't pitch."

* DAVIS STAYS BEHIND: Injured first baseman Glenn Davis is not with the Orioles for the series with the Tigers. Davis, who has been in uniform for every game since being placed on the disabled list April 26, remained in Baltimore to undergo treatment on his neck.

There is still no indication when or if Davis, sidelined with an injury to the accessory nerve, will be able to return to the active list.

* ONE AT A TIME: Until Chris Hoiles grounded a double to left in the fifth inning last night, 44 of the Orioles' previous 45 hits had been singles.

The Orioles have been in a similar rut with home runs. They are tied with the Tigers for the league lead with 38 homers, but the last 17 have been hit with the bases empty -- a club record for consecutive solo shots.

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