Johnson activated for relief; Turner demoted
Pitcher Dave Johnson received his wish yesterday when the Baltimore Orioles activated him from the disabled list.
Johnson, who has been on a rehabilitation assignment since July 2, will go to the bullpen temporarily and be on call should something affect the status of anyone in the five-man starting rotation.
"We'll see how things go," said manager John Oates. "I like the idea of a six-man bullpen, and Dave will be available any way I want to use him. Most likely, it'll be long, and probably very long."
That means Johnson will be the first man in if a starter falters in the early innings, and that's fine with him.
"Hopefully, I'll get the chance to pitch in the rotation," he said. "But now I'll go do whatever they want me to do. It's just like when Frank [Robinson] told me to go to the bullpen earlier.
"I'm just happy to be back."
Last night might have begun happily for Johnson, but it did not end that way.
He replaced Jeff Robinson with the bases loaded and one out in the fifth. He struck out Mark McGwire, but then Ernest Riles followed with a grand slam to put the Oakland Athletics ahead, 7-3, before Johnson got out of the inning. Then in the seventh, Johnson gave up home runs to Jose Canseco and Harold Baines.
To make room for Johnson, infielder Shane Turner was optioned to the Class AAA Rochester Red Wings. Turner spent 10 days with the team, batting once.
Johnson said he is recovered from the injured groin muscle that put him on the disabled list May 19. On rehabilitation, he pitched three times for the Class AA Hagerstown Suns and twice for Rochester, combining for a 3-1 record. He last pitched for the Orioles on May 16.
He said he experimented more with his breaking ball in two Red Wings starts after throwing mostly fastballs in Class AA.
Oates left the door ajar for Johnson to return to the rotation, saying: "There is always a chance. There isn't a timetable. We'll start the five best pitchers. If the opportunity presents itself, we'll do it."
An adjustment to bullpen duty will be necessary.
"It'll be difficult," Johnson said. "It's a situation where I have to have enough time to get ready. I'm not [Gregg] Olson or [Mark] Williamson, who can throw a couple and be there."
A's get Jacoby
Last year Baines and Willie McGee were late-season acquisitions who helped the Athletics to a third straight pennant.
Will Brook Jacoby be the charm this time?
A's vice president Sandy Alderson swung another important deal yesterday, landing Jacoby from the Cleveland Indians to fill the third-base void created when Carney Lansford had to be placed on the disabled list again with an injured left leg.
Jacoby is due in today.
"It's just like when we got Carney back," said manager Tony La Russa. "He can play other positions."
Still, third base is where Jacoby is expected to spend most of his time.
The price for Jacoby? Minor-league outfielder Lee Tinsley and minor-league pitcher Apolinar Garcia. Both have been assigned to the Class AA Canton-Akron Indians.
Talk, but little action
Oates said yesterday's organizational meeting covered abundant discussion but little movement other than the reactivation of Johnson.
Team president Larry Lucchino, general manager Roland Hemond, assistant general manager Frank Robinson, Oates and his coaches participated.
Hickey still unemployed
Kevin Hickey said he would gladly accept a Class AAA assignment from a major-league team because "I have to."
Hickey is still without a job after clearing waivers. He said he has had a couple of inquiries "but nothing concrete yet.
"If I have to go back to Triple-A, hopefully, it'll only be for a month."
The players held a pre-game meeting to discuss "informational things and a little bit of [kangaroo] court," said player rep Jeff Ballard. "It seemed like a good day for that." . . . Ballard will pitch tonight against Joe Slusarski, who has been recalled from Class AAA Tacoma. Ballard is 0-12 in his past 17 starts at home. . . . Actor Kevin Costner is scheduled to take batting practice before 1 of the games this weekend. . . . The Orioles have gone 97 games without an error by their catchers.