Olson's role unchanged, Oates says But others might serve as closer, too

August 23, 1992|By Kent Baker | Kent Baker,Staff Writer

Under normal conditions, it was a situation for the song "Wild Thing" to announce Gregg Olson's entrance.

Alan Mills had just rescued the Orioles from an eighth-inning jam against the Oakland Athletics on Friday night, and the Orioles were leading 4-2 heading into the ninth.

A save opportunity for the closer.

But Olson never made it to the mound. Manager Johnny Oates left in Mills, who registered his second major-league save.

Did the decision signal a new order in the bullpen as the Orioles plunge into the final 40 games of a pennant race?

Not really.

Oates said yesterday that Olson has not surrendered his job, that he'll be the man when the game is on the line. But he hedged a bit.

"Olson is the closer," Oates said. "But there may be situations where you could use any of those guys -- [Storm] Davis, [Todd] Frohwirth and Mills -- in that role. It all depends."

This was not the first time Olson (28 saves) was idle while a save opportunity passed him by. Davis, Frohwirth and Mills have combined for nine saves.

And the club's all-time saves leader did not perceive his omission from the game as a slight.

"I'm not upset about that," said Olson. "Mills did a great job in the eighth and earned the right to go out there for the next inning. And we won the game. That's the bottom line."

Olson-bashing -- he has blown five of his past 12 save chances -- has become popular on local radio talk shows. But Olson contends there is nothing wrong that a little success won't cure.

"I feel fine and I feel I'm throwing well," he said. "Everybody seems to have an answer for me. They don't seem to see the reasons why things happen.

"There's the ground ball that takes 15 hops and finds a hole, the bloop hit, guys running on a wild pitch that rolls two feet away from the catcher."

Oates said his use of Mills on Friday was not to relieve pressure on Olson.

"There shouldn't be any pressure on him," said Oates. "Pressure is going to be there every time he's out there. He knows that."

Entering in a non-save situation last night, Olson was pitching for only the second time in a weeks after blowing a save try at Royals Stadium in a 5-4 loss. He worked 1 1/3 innings in a non-save situation against the Mariners in a 10-8 defeat and last night went one inning unscathed in a 5-3 loss.

The A's were 7-for-19 against him this season but went 0-for-3 last night.

Olson is not brooding about his relative inactivity.

"Everybody thinks the name of my game is getting everybody out," he said. "If I'm not doing that, they think I'm not doing my job."

Oates said if Mills had struggled in the eighth, "Olson would have been in there in the ninth. That's why I don't have an answer as to who it will be."

Olson said he will stay prepared for any situation.

"Night by night, that's all I can do," he said. "If the ball comes, I'll take it. I have to get ready to pitch in situations where I'm needed regardless. There's no pressure. You just go out and do your job."

Olson said he knows the so-called experts all have an opinion.

"Somebody thinks I ought to throw more fastballs," he said. "Somebody else thinks I'm not throwing enough curves. Well, let them try to face [Jose] Canseco with guys on base. It's not easy.

"Hey, we're two whole games back [after Friday]. Somebody has to be doing something right."

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