Oates watches workout, says Olson not ready to return yet

July 17, 1992|By Jim Henneman | Jim Henneman,Staff Writer

ARLINGTON, Texas -- When Johnny Oates and Gregg Olson arrived at Arlington Stadium last night, both expected the Orioles' relief ace would be available for the game against the Texas Rangers.

But after further review the manager quickly changed his attitude.

"He [Olson] threw [Wednesday, before the club left Baltimore] and said he was OK," Oates reported before last night's opener of this four-game series with the Rangers.

Then Olson threw in the bullpen last night and Oates found out his ace closer wasn't 100 percent.

"I threw for 15 minutes [Wednesday]," said Olson. "It wasn't normal -- but I didn't expect it to be. You can't expect it to be 100 percent right away."

Olson has been sidelined with a strained muscle in his left side since July 8, when he left a game against the Chicago White Sox after throwing five pitches.

"I feel it doesn't affect me [throwing] -- and that's the main thing," said Olson.

Asked if he could pitch effectively, Olson said: "I think so -- if I couldn't, I wouldn't be coming back. Obviously if it got to the point where it was getting worse, then that would be something else.

"I've just got to get my rhythm back," he said. "Right now it feels a little strange."

Supposedly, that was the reason why Olson was to throw again last night -- to work on his rhythm and get comfortable on the mound. After watching, Oates changed his mind.

"It's highly unlikely he'll pitch," said Oates. "Until he throws 100 percent in the bullpen, I'm not going to use him [in a game]. And he hasn't thrown 100 percent yet.

"I have a feeling he didn't feel as good today [last night] as he thought he would." "I asked him if he had thrown 100 percent, and he said 'about 75 percent.'

"I told him I wasn't going to use him until I was convinced he was 100 percent. Can you imagine what would happen if I ran him out there and he wasn't ready and hurt himself again?"

Even though it has been eight days since he was injured, it still does not appear that Olson will go on the disabled list. His condition almost certainly will affect the Orioles' next roster move on Monday, when Storm Davis is reactivated to start against the White Sox in Chicago.

Oates said he may return to the 11-man pitching staff he used a year ago. Richie Lewis, who was promoted from Triple-A Rochester when Bob Milacki was optioned on Wednesday, is scheduled to work out of the bullpen this weekend.

"If Storm [Davis] for some reason couldn't start Monday, then Lewis would be available," said Oates. "But I fully expect Storm to pitch.

"What happens after that depends on what we think is best for us now, what's best for the long term -- and whether we decide to go with 11 pitchers," said Oates.

Oates said that had Lewis been available to pitch last week, he would've been called up instead of Arthur Rhodes.

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