Oates apologizes for remark he made to MilliganOrioles...

July 08, 1992|By Milton Kent | Milton Kent,Staff Writer

Oates apologizes for remark he made to Milligan

Orioles manager Johnny Oates apologized to Randy Milligan yesterday for coming down harshly on the first baseman for a remark he made after Monday's 14-inning marathon.

Milligan said if the Orioles had lost Monday to Chicago, "We could have packed the season up."

When told of Milligan's comments, Oates said, "If he's going to quit that easy, I'll remember that."

Yesterday the manager said he apologized for misinterpreting what Milligan had said.

"Randy Milligan and I both said the same thing. After a game like that, you make comments in jest," said Oates. "We both know I would not quit, period, and he would not quit, period.

"If there's one guy on this ballclub that we know is never going to quit, it's Randy Milligan."

Long-range planning

Is it better to trade two or three prospects for a veteran player for an all-out pennant drive or build a ballclub to contend for the long haul?

That's the question before Oates and team management, and Oates' answer is clear.

"I don't think you should be giving up two or three young players for one veteran to put you over the top," said Oates. "That's taking two steps backward to take one step forward."

Still, Oates said that the club, though three games behind the Toronto Blue Jays in the American League East, needs help in the middle of the lineup and in the left-handed pitching.

"We're always looking to improve," said Oates. "We've done better than expected at the top and bottom of the order, but we'd like to get a little better in the middle."

Toward that end, Oates said the Orioles have talked with other teams about acquiring a left-hander, but he would not name the teams or pitchers.

Oates said the club has not spoken with the San Diego Padres about Bruce Hurst or the Detroit Tigers about Frank Tanana, two veteran left-handers rumored to be available.

The Orioles could be considering the Los Angeles Dodgers' Bobby Ojeda or the New York Mets' Sid Fernandez, though the asking price for either would presumably be high.

"That pennant is right there for the taking," said Oates. "It's tempting [to make a trade], but with today's free agency, it's such a crap shoot that even if you keep your guys, you don't know how long you get to keep them."

Injury update

Reliever Mark Williamson pronounced himself "about three weeks ahead of schedule" for recovery, though he didn't have a timetable for his return.

Williamson, who has been on the disabled list since April 16 with bone chips in his right (throwing) elbow, threw from the bullpen mound yesterday for about 15 or 20 minutes, after a similar stint last weekend in Minneapolis.

Williamson said he threw sliders and breaking balls during his turn at the Metrodome and felt fine afterward.

It once appeared that Williamson would be ready to rejoin the team for next week's All-Star break, but he suffered a setback last month when he sprained his ankle playing with his children.

Williamson said the ankle is "a little sore" and he is doing drills to test his ankle's strength.

Meanwhile, Oates said catcher Chris Hoiles, who suffered a fracture in his right wrist two weeks ago, is about two to three weeks and a rehabilitation assignment away from rejoining the club.

He's all right

Oates expressed confidence in shortstop Cal Ripken, whose 13-game RBI drought matches the longest of his career in April 1982, his first major-league season.

"He's just not hitting his pitch. He'll be all right," said Oates. "A couple of weeks ago, people were asking what was wrong, and then he hits in 17 [games] in a row."

Ripken ended an 0-for-16 drought last night with a first-inning single, his only hit in four at-bats. His average is .270.

Miscellaneous

Chicago 1B Frank Thomas, an Orioles nemesis, was a late scratch from last night's lineup with a head cold. . . . Rochester OF Jack Voigt, who hit .330 with six homers and 18 RBI in June, and Hagerstown P John O'Donoghue, who went 2-1 with a 2.06 ERA, were named the organization's minor-league player and pitcher of June, respectively.

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