Bonilla's OF debut delayed Johnson says decision his, won't yield to pressure


April 17, 1996|By Peter Schmuck and Buster Olney | Peter Schmuck and Buster Olney,SUN STAFF

Manager Davey Johnson apparently was planning to put Bobby Bonilla in right field for last night's game, but decided to wait one more day after the two-week-old designated hitter controversy flared up again.

Bonilla said Sunday that it was time for Johnson to make a decision on his status, and hinted that he would be unlikely to re-sign with the Orioles next year if the DH situation was any more than a short-term arrangement.

Johnson said yesterday that he already had decided to play Bonilla in the outfield for a couple games against the Boston Red Sox, but temporarily changed his mind because he did not want to create the impression that he was allowing someone else to influence his lineup decisions.

"I had decided I was going to put him in there," Johnson said. "When I read that in the paper, I decided I better talk to Bobby and make sure the newspapers don't start dictating the lineup. It seems to be something that the media wants to make a big issue of."

Bonilla had little to say about the situation yesterday. He met with Johnson in the clubhouse and the two talked again during batting practice. Johnson apparently told him he would be in the outfield for tonight's game and again tomorrow. The manager would like the matter to be closed.

"It [discussing it] has no constructive purpose," Johnson said. "Nothing has changed. It was something I was going to do. Bobby feels the same way I do. We're on the same page."

Johnson and Bonilla clearly were on the same side in the seventh inning last night, when the manager was ejected for joining Bonilla in an argument with first base umpire Don Denkinger. Bonilla was protesting a check-swing third strike and it first appeared that he was the one who got the hook.

Mills on the mend

The end of Alan Mills' rehabilitation from shoulder surgery may be in sight. Mills threw for about 12 minutes before yesterday's game, and, according to pitching coach Pat Dobson, "it was probably the best he's thrown."

Mills will throw to hitters in a simulated game Friday in Texas. Assuming he has no setbacks, Johnson estimated Mills will get three or four rehab appearances in extended spring training before being activated -- meaning he may be about three weeks away from being ready.

But Johnson wants Mills, who is throwing just fastballs and changeups and isn't throwing breaking balls, to continue approaching his rehabilitation conservatively.

"We don't want to rush this thing just for the sake of putting a timetable on it," Johnson said.

Scouting expedition

Orioles scouting director Gary Nickels and assistant GM Kevin Malone attended a workout in Florida on Monday for 16-year-old Jackson Mellian, an outfielder from Venezuela who is being showcased by agent Scott Boras. Malone wouldn't comment on the Orioles' interest in Mellian.

But if they do decide to bid on Mellian, there may have stiff competition. According to some who've seen Mellian, he is like a young Raul Mondesi -- great potential as a hitter, a good throwing arm and average speed. Mellian cannot be signed until July 2.

Around the horn

Johnson on Orioles catcher Chris Hoiles, who is hitting .125 (4-for-32): "I don't know Chris Hoiles that well. I know he hit the ball well in the past. A [hit] here, a [hit] there, he'll be fine." . . . Tim Blackwell was named manager of the Bowie Baysox, the Orioles' Double-A team. Blackwell, who had been managing Single-A Frederick, will be replaced in Frederick by Julio Garcia, who was a Keys coach. Bob Miscik resigned as Baysox manager Monday. . . . Rocky Coppinger is off to a fair start for Triple-A Rochester, allowing five hits, nine walks and two runs in 9 2/3 innings. . . . Former Orioles outfielder Alex Ochoa, now with the Mets' Triple-A Norfolk team, was named Player of the Week in the International League.

Pub Date: 4/17/96

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