Oates taking right turn against Johnson

NOTEBOOK

April 30, 1994|By Tom Keegan | Tom Keegan,Sun Staff Writer

SEATTLE -- Orioles manager Johnny Oates plans to stack his lineup with nine right-handed hitters tonight against Seattle left-hander Randy Johnson.

Leadoff hitter Brady Anderson and No. 3 hitter Rafael Palmeiro will not start, Oates said.

Palmeiro is 1-for-17 lifetime against Johnson. Palmeiro played in 160 games for the Texas Rangers last season. Both times he sat out came when Johnson started for Seattle.

Johnson faces Mike Mussina in a matchup between two of the American League's top pitchers, the first duel between the two.

"I've never pitched in the same game as him because I didn't pitch in the All-Star Game," said Mussina, smiling while referring to the slight paid him by Toronto manager Cito Gaston.

The Orioles have had more success than most against Johnson, beating him in four of five decisions,but that doesn't mean they are looking forward to facing him.

"I'd rather he pitched the day before we got to town so we could miss him," shortstop Cal Ripken said. "He is definitely one of the best pitchers in the league."

And the tallest.

"For baseball it's a great matchup," Orioles catcher Chris Hoiles said. "But it's no fun facing Randy Johnson. He's 6-10 to begin with and when he's standing on the mound he looks like a giant. He looks about 8 feet tall standing out there. One stride and he's at home plate. It's kind of a weird thing looking out there at him because when you look out there all you see is him."

Hoiles called him "effectively wild" and Oates agreed.

"You better believe it makes him better," Oates said. "Anybody who you don't know where the ball is coming in is tough to get a bead on. He probably wouldn't be as good if he had real good control."

Tonight's start will be Mussina's first at the Kingdome. Seattle is the only city he has not pitched in.

Sabo, Hoiles return to lineup

Third baseman Chris Sabo, bothered by back soreness, returned to the lineup against the Mariners. Sabo was to make his first appearance as a designated hitter. He had missed five of the previous six games.

Hoiles, who sat out Thursday's game in Anaheim because of dizziness the day after being beaned by California's Scott Lewis, also returned to the lineup last night.

Baines may return tomorrow

Designated hitter Harold Baines, out since last Saturday with a strained groin muscle, might start tomorrow against Seattle right-hander Chris Bosio, Oates said. Baines pinch-hit in the ninth last night, striking out against Bobby Ayala.

Voigt starts slow

Jack Voigt doesn't need the statistics, which show he had a .095 average going into last night, to tell him he is not swinging the bat well.

"I was making mechanical mistakes in my swing toward the end of the last homestand," Voigt said. "It was almost like the bat felt wrong in my hands."

Voigt (2-for-21) struggled in his first month last season after being recalled from Triple-A Rochester. He had two hits in his first 17 major-league at-bats but recovered to hit .330 in August and September.

Miscellaneous

California right-hander John Dopson might have pitched his way out of the Angels' rotation by allowing four walks and seven hits in six innings in the Orioles' 4-2 victory over the Angels, but Orioles center fielder Mike Devereaux didn't have anything to do with it. Devereaux struck out three times against Dopson and four times for the game, going 0-for-5. . . . Going into last night's game, Jeffrey Hammonds was fourth on the team in hitting (.312), tied for third in runs (16), and third in RBIs (14). . . . Seattle's Bobby Thigpen, who saved a major-league record 57 games in 1990, was given his unconditional release.

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