Johnson comes to Erickson's defense Downplays pitcher's outburst about errors

ORIOLES NOTEBOOK

Notebook

April 29, 1996|By Brad Snyder | Brad Snyder,SUN STAFF

Manager Davey Johnson did some damage control before yesterday's game, downplaying remarks made by pitcher Scott Erickson after Saturday's 4-2 loss.

Erickson said Saturday that he would be 4-0 if the Orioles had played better defense in his past three starts.

"The thing about Erickson, let me say this, it's unfortunate any time when you're going through a little bad period, sometimes certain mistakes are magnified," Johnson said. "But I don't think it's an issue. I know it's not an issue with Scotty, and I know it's not an issue with the players."

Johnson said he had not read about Erickson's comments, which were made after Rusty Greer's two-out, eighth-inning grounder went between first baseman Rafael Palmeiro's legs.

The error allowed the first of three runs to score.

"Scotty made a couple of mistakes to certain hitters that led to the loss," Johnson said. "There's a lot of times where the defense is a plus; yesterday, there were a few little blips. Over the course of a season, that's to be expected."

Johnson did not specifically say whether he would talk to Erickson ("I talk with all of my players") but did not seem too concerned about the pitcher's comments.

"My problem is if that one play [Palmeiro's error] affected him and that's why he gave up the hit [a two-run double] to [Kevin] Elster," Johnson said. "That was what concerned me more."

Bonilla also defended

Johnson also took time out to defend Bobby Bonilla -- whom Johnson returned to the designated hitter spot yesterday -- against charges of selfishness.

Bonilla has been outspoken about his dislike for the role of designated hitter.

"I don't think that he blames the DH for his hitting woes, and I don't think he blames a different role for himself," Johnson said. "I think he's probably putting too much pressure on himself."

Johnson said Bonilla -- who was 0-for-3 yesterday with two walks -- is so intent on driving in runs that he has expanded his strike zone, which has led to his hitting .204 in the first 24 games.

"If there's anybody on this club who's unselfish," Johnson said, "it's probably Bobby Bonilla."

Mussina finds old groove

Mike Mussina avoided losing three straight decisions for the first time in his career.

He struck out seven and gave up seven hits, three walks and a run during eight innings. Mussina's only mistake was a hanging 0-2 knuckle-curve that Elster hit for a home run.

"I wound up throwing a lot of pitches and getting out of a couple jams," Mussina said. "It was at least an improvement."

Hoiles back in swing

Chris Hoiles, who homered and doubled yesterday, has hit safely in seven of his past nine games. During that stretch, he's batting .353 (12-for-34) with 10 runs scored, four homers, two doubles and seven RBIs.

Hoiles, who has five home runs and 10 RBIs overall, is having a season like he did in 1992. That year, Hoiles finished with 20 homers and 40 RBIs, the major-league record for the lowest RBI total by a 20-home run hitter.

Tettleton stretches point

In the second inning, Texas first baseman Mickey Tettleton made a full-extension stretch on a throw from shortstop Elster that was reminiscent of Harmon Killebrew's in the 1968 All-Star Game.

Killebrew was injured on that play.

Tettleton made a similar stretch on a third-inning double-play ball, pulled his hamstring and later left the game.

Around the horn

Johnson has gotten two long outings from his starters -- Mussina threw 132 pitches yesterday and Erickson threw 128 Saturday -- but no victories. . . . Yesterday was the Orioles' 300th home date at Camden Yards -- they're 164-139 overall, including three doubleheaders, and have sold out 219 dates.

Pub Date: 4/29/96

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