BOSTON — Johnson seeks to show he can fill spot starter's spot
BOSTON -- Right-hander Dave Johnson will get at least one more chance to improve on a disappointing season, but he doesn't want to read too much into tomorrow night's spot start against the Boston Red Sox.
"I'm not going to go out and try to earn anything with it," Johnson said. "I'm just going to go out and throw the ball over the plate and see what happens."
The start comes courtesy of right-hander Ben McDonald, who has withdrawn from the starting rotation with a small tear in his right shoulder. Johnson could get as many as three turns before the end of the season, but Baltimore Orioles manager John Oates also has expressed the desire to give left-hander Jeff Ballard another chance.
For Johnson, a handful of starts probably won't have a dramatic effect on his future with the club, but he does want to show that he can fill a spot starter role if that is all the club has to offer next year.
"I'd rather be a starter," he said, "but I think I can help this club as the fifth guy in the bullpen who can come in in an emergency and give you six innings any time you need a spot start.
"But even if I pitch three shutouts, that isn't going to mean anything. Next year, I hope to start even with everybody and try to earn a job."
McDonald remains upbeat
McDonald said yesterday that he has little doubt that he'll be healthy next year, even though a recent examination revealed a slight tear in the labrum of his right shoulder.
"I'll be fine next year," he said. "They're telling me that this could have been there before. There's a chance that all I have is a tired shoulder. The possibility of surgery or 'scoping it was never even mentioned."
Oates favors Blue Jays
Oates said yesterday that he thinks the Toronto Blue Jays are better equipped than the surging Red Sox to emerge with the American League East title.
"They have more depth pitching, more depth relieving, more speed and more power," he said. "Other than that, they don't have too much."
But the schedule favors the Red Sox, who play against the teams below them in the AL East while the Blue Jays finish against four formidable AL West clubs.
"I think it makes it tougher having to play on the West Coast than the East," Oates added. "Out there, you're going to face some pretty tough pitching every night."
The Red Sox will be without center fielder Ellis Burks for at least an additional week, according to team orthopedist Dr. Arthur Pappas.
Pappas said yesterday that Burks is suffering from a bulging disk in his lower back and will be treated with rest and anti-inflammatory medication. Surgery has not been ruled out, but Pappas said it probably would not be necessary.
The loss of Burks could be a major blow to the pennant hopes of the Red Sox, who probably will add former Oriole Jeff Stone to the roster to take his place.
Evans starts in right
Former Red Sox outfielder Dwight Evans was back in familiar territory last night. He started in right field and will start there again tonight, but probably won't play against right-hander Mike Gardiner tomorrow night.
The opposing pitchers in Mike Mussina's 9 starts have a combined 81-56 record. . . . The Orioles bullpen has given up 1 run in its previous 28 innings. . . . The Orioles lead the majors with 25 home runs in September. . . . Orioles designated hitters have driven in 99 runs this year, 34 more than last year. Sam Horn has 57 of them.