SEATTLE -- As late as Wednesday, the Orioles didn't seem to be in any rush to activate right fielder Jeffrey Hammonds or center fielder Andy Van Slyke.
That afternoon, manager Phil Regan said Van Slyke wouldn't be taken off the disabled list because left-hander Randy Johnson was pitching for Seattle, and Hammonds probably wouldn't be called up from Double-A Bowie until Monday, when the Orioles begin a three-game series in California. No hurry.
Losses Wednesday night and Thursday changed that. Both players were activated yesterday; Hammonds was told after playing for Bowie on Thursday night and flew across the country in order to try to join the Orioles in time for last night's game.
Regan said the Orioles needed Hammonds and Van Slyke. "Hammonds and Van Slyke are important players for us," Regan said. "We need a little spark right now."
Assistant general manager Frank Robinson said, "[Hammonds] has a history of doing that, being able to spark a team."
Hammonds was in the first starting lineup drawn up by Regan last night, hitting sixth as the DH, but the lineup was changed when his plane was delayed. He arrived and appeared in the dugout in the third inning, and pinch-hit in the sixth.
Damon Buford, a right-handed hitter, was in the starting lineup against Johnson, but Van Slyke is expected to start today.
The Orioles' lineup had a funky look to it last night. After Hammonds was scratched, first baseman Rafael Palmeiro, who was going to take the night off (he was 1-for-17 lifetime against Johnson), was reinserted in the lineup at No. 6. Shortstop Cal Ripken was bumped into the No. 3 spot, with catcher Chris Hoiles hitting cleanup. Jeff Manto batted fifth and was the designated hitter. Leo Gomez batted seventh and started at third for the first time since May 16.
Palmeiro struggled as usual against Johnson, striking out three times and grounding out to short with the bases loaded to end the seventh inning.
Jamie Moyer will replace Arthur Rhodes in the rotation, which is OK by him -- if, in fact, that's what he's told. Regan told the media yesterday that Moyer would start Tuesday, but hadn't gotten a chance to talk to Moyer, and the veteran left-hander was careful not to speak out of turn. "It's not official," he said, "until somebody tells me something, and nobody's told me anything."
But he did address the hypothetical, and said that he would prefer starting over relieving. "I've done it for most of my career," he said, "so I enjoy doing it. I'm not going to be a 20-game winner or a stopper, but I look at it this way -- I think that's what I do best."
The Streak, cont.
Another city, another press gathering to speak with Ripken about his streak.
Somebody asked Ripken if playing in the 1983 World Series seemed like a long time ago, and he responded, "Definitely . . . Looking back on it, I think I may have taken it for granted . . . If I get back to the playoffs and World Series, I think I'd be in a position to appreciate it a little bit more, after going through the 0-21 start and things like that."
Oakland manager Tony La Russa said earlier this week that he thought Ripken would make a good manager, but Ripken doesn't know if that interests him.
What does he view as the downside and upside of managing.
/# "Is there an upside?" he joked.
No on Strawberry
The McClatchey News Service reported that the Orioles were interested in signing suspended slugger Darryl Strawberry, but Robinson denied it.
"As far as I know, it's never been discussed. It's never been talked about in any conversation I've been in," Robinson said.
Around the horn
Robinson said that the recent decision to have outfield prospect Alex Ochoa take ground balls at third base was not related to the demotion of Sherman Obando. Rochester manager Marv Foley must find a way to get at-bats for three outfield prospects -- Ochoa, Mark Smith and Curtis Goodwin -- as well as Obando, and moving Ochoa to third would be one way of getting all four in the lineup. . . . The contract negotiations between the Orioles and pitcher Mike Mussina are lasting longer than the O. J. Simpson trial, but they continue to make progress. Mussina and his agent are expected to give another counteroffer to the Orioles that should narrow the gap -- originally at about $5.25 million -- to less than $2 million. They are talking about a three-year deal, with possible club options for a fourth or fifth year. . . . The Mariners recalled right-hander Tim Harikkala from Triple-A Tacoma, making him the 18th pitcher on the Mariners' pitching staff since the regular season started April 27. To make room for Harikkala, the Mariners demoted left-hander Tim Davis.