Slumping Surhoff gets a day off B. Ripken plays third while Alexander sulks

Orioles Notebook

April 22, 1996|By Buster Olney | Buster Olney,SUN STAFF

ARLINGTON, Texas -- For the first time this season, Orioles manager Davey Johnson made a change in the first six spots of his batting order yesterday. Third baseman B. J. Surhoff, hitless in his last eight at-bats and just 5-for-27 in his last seven games, was given a day off, replaced by Bill Ripken.

"I anguished over it," Johnson said, "because I had two choices -- Ripken or [Manny] Alexander. I always lean toward the younger player. I thought I'd give it to the senior player in this situation.

"Billy kind of looked like he had more insight. He was taking more ground balls at third [in pre-game practice]."

Ripken went hitless in two at-bats, before Jeff Huson pinch hit for him.

The names in the first five spots of the batting order -- Brady Anderson, Roberto Alomar, Rafael Palmeiro, Bobby Bonilla and Cal Ripken -- have been a constant.

Alexander was upset with Johnson's decision to start Ripken instead of him at third. While the rest of the players began to stretch before yesterday's game, Alexander remained in the dugout until Johnson talked to him.

Hitters slumping, too

The Orioles' pitching has been horrendous, but many of the team's big hitters are slumping.

Bonilla has four hits in his last seven games, Jeffrey Hammonds has gone seven games since his last RBI, Palmeiro and Chris Hoiles had one RBI each in their last seven games before both homered yesterday and Cal Ripken is still without a homer.

Collectively, the Orioles have 11 hits in their last 64 at-bats with runners in scoring position (.171).

Turn back the clothes

The Orioles and Rangers wore 1930's-style Turn Back The Clock uniforms yesterday. Frankly, the Orioles hated theirs, with pants legs high and no stirrups, and hats with stripes.

"It looks like prison-issue," said pitcher Mike Mussina. "I like the hat, though. I'm going to wear it every game I pitch."

As each coach walked out in his fancy new uniform, others burst out laughing. "Why don't they have Turn Ahead The Clock day?" broadcaster Mike Flanagan said.

The Gooden watch

General manager Pat Gillick said yesterday he has no plans to call the New York Yankees about the availability of struggling right-hander Dwight Gooden, something the Orioles talked about internally.

Gillick agreed that the Yankees probably would have reservations about dealing with the Orioles. "That's probably a sensitive situation," Gillick said.

Johnson said: "It's an option. A very small option."

Others in the organization say Gillick will just watch for Gooden's name on the waiver wire, which he must pass through if the Yankees try to send him to the minor leagues.

Gooden will make $850,000 in base salary this season, with a $2 million option for 1997 and $3 million in 1998. Gooden has been dropped from the Yankees' starting rotation, but New York manager Joe Torre says he intends to keep Gooden in the majors. Gooden is 0-3 with an 11.48 ERA.

Around the horn

Rusty Greer had played every inning for the Rangers this season until he was given a day off yesterday. "I don't, by accident, want to start another Cal Ripken," said Texas manager Johnny Oates. But the streak continues. Greer entered the game in the eighth as a defensive replacement. . . . Alan Mills, who is close to coming back from shoulder surgery, threw in the bullpen yesterday. He will fly to Sarasota today for a rehabilitation assignment. Johnson said it might be two weeks before Mills is ready to rejoin the Orioles. . . . The players watched the movie "The Silence of the Lambs" in the clubhouse before Saturday's game, and while some Orioles sat in quiet suspense, closer Randy Myers quoted the various prices of night-vision binoculars and explained how to thwart someone wearing a pair. . . . Some Orioles thought the Rangers were somewhat graceless as they thumped the O's, 26-7, on Friday night, and Texas catcher Ivan Rodriguez and Orioles backup Gregg Zaun exchanged angry words Saturday. Johnson was asked if there is some bad blood between the teams. "No," Johnson said. "Other than the fact we're kind of upset they kicked our butts the last couple of games."

Pub Date: 4/22/96

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