Olson won't burden shoulder Closer to rest a few days to ease familiar stiffness

August 10, 1993|By Peter Schmuck | Peter Schmuck,Staff Writer

DETRIOT — DETROIT -- Orioles relief pitcher Gregg Olson battled with a stiff shoulder over the weekend, so manager Johnny Oates hopes to get through the next few days without his closer.

"We're probably going to use him sparingly for a while," said Oates, who will have to navigate with several players on limited duty. "He had a little trouble getting loose on Saturday night and I don't think that he ever got loose yesterday [Sunday]."

Olson needed extra time to get ready for Sunday's appearance against the Cleveland Indians. He finally came on in the ninth inning with the tying run at third base and eventually gave up a game-tying single to Sandy Alomar, but the Orioles won the game in the 11th.

"I was loose when I went into the game," Olson said. "That [the shoulder problem] had nothing to do with what happened in the game."

Club officials don't seem too concerned at this point. Olson figured to get a day off last night after pitching two days in a row, and he did. Oates said he hoped to keep him on ice -- literally -- for at least a couple of days.

Oates did not say, however, whether he would move a specific pitcher into the closer role until Olson comes back.

The last time that Olson's status was questionable -- though under entirely different circumstances -- right-hander Todd Frohwirth was used in his place, but Frohwirth has not been as overpowering as he was early in the season.

"We'll just see what the matchup is at the end of the game," said Oates, who had Jim Poole and Alan Mills warming up in the ninth inning last night and called on Mills after Arthur Rhodes gave up a leadoff walk.

Olson does not act like a guy who is worried about his arm. He pitched over the weekend despite the stiffness and said he did not experience any significant soreness when he woke up yesterday.

"I get this once a year," he said. "It's just the usual. I had some trouble getting loose. It'll probably take a little time [to completely subside], and I've only been getting a day here and there."

His problems earlier this season were not related to his physical condition. Olson struggled through the first 2 1/2 weeks of the season and was moved out of the closer role for a few days to work out some mechanical flaws in his delivery.

He returned quickly and registered 22 saves in his next 23 opportunities to re-establish himself as one of the top closers in the game.

"That was just a matter of having a bad arm slot," Olson said. "We had to try a number of things, but it had nothing to do with pain or stiffness."

The career numbers should tell everything you need to know about Olson's durability. He has had a few bouts with shoulder stiffness, but he is about to reach 30 saves for the fourth consecutive season.

He had one extended layoff in 1990, but never has been seriously impeded on his way to becoming the club's all-time save leader.

"I've had something like this at least once in every season," Olson said, "and always about this time of year. I think you just get a little fatigued. I'm still trying to find a way around it."

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