OAKLAND, Calif. -- Just when the Orioles got all their position players relatively healthy, their starting rotation has been hit by injuries. Right-hander Scott Erickson sprained his left ankle playing pepper before Monday night's game and won't make his scheduled start against Seattle this Friday -- and left-hander David Wells already has been knocked out by gout in his big right toe.
"I think all teams go through stretches like this," said manager Davey Johnson.
Erickson was limping badly around the clubhouse yesterday, his ankle wrapped thickly, and did not participate in any pre-game drills. At the earliest, Johnson said, Erickson could return to the rotation next Monday or Tuesday.
But the manager has no idea when Wells will be back. Today, a local foot specialist will cut into his toe and draw out fluid, to determine if what is hurting Wells is more than gout.
"It's gotten to the point where it makes you wonder exactly what it is," said trainer Richie Bancells.
Gout usually goes away in a day or two, and Wells has been hobbling around for a week now.
Left-hander Kent Mercker will start in Erickson's place Friday, and Rick Krivda, who beat Oakland Monday night, will pitch in Wells' turn Saturday. Should Wells' problem continue much longer, Johnson conceded the Orioles probably would call up a pitcher from Triple-A Rochester.
A leading candidate is right-hander Brian Sackinsky, who has just come off the disabled list himself. Another possibility is Rocky Coppinger, although club officials think he needs to make more progress before being promoted.
Ripken dropped to 7th
Shortstop Cal Ripken batted seventh in the Orioles' lineup last night, the lowest he's batted since Oct. 3, 1982, when he also batted seventh.
The move was a ripple effect of Johnson's decision to place Roberto Alomar in the No. 3 spot in the lineup and bat the platoon of Luis Polonia and Mike Devereaux second in the order. Rafael Palmeiro dropped from third to fourth against right-handed starter Carlos Reyes, Bobby Bonilla from fourth to fifth, B. J. Surhoff from fifth to sixth and Ripken from sixth to seventh. Ripken will hit sixth against left-handers, as he did on Monday night.
Going into last night's game, Ripken was batting .248 with one homer and 18 RBIs, and a .352 slugging percentage, which is 101 points lower than his career mark going into this year (.453).
A Florida Marlins staff member was in Rochester, N.Y., this week, watching the Red Wings play, a possible precursor to a deal with the Orioles.
Orioles general manager Pat Gillick said last night the Orioles are talking to the Marlins about a "middle reliever type." Sounds an awful lot like David Weathers, a right-hander who was demoted to Triple-A last week. The Orioles asked about Weathers in spring training, but at that time, the Marlins' asking price was too high. Florida may be interested in Rochester outfielder Mark Smith.
The Orioles also were tracking veteran right-hander John Farrell, who had been pitching for Buffalo, the Indians' Triple-A affiliate. But last night he was traded to Detroit.
Johnson has said repeatedly he sees a need for a right-hander who could pitch in long relief.
Krivda does his homework
Krivda prepares diligently for each start, studying numbers and charts and making mental notes. It's something he's been doing since he was a kid.
"I've been a stat rat since I can remember," Krivda said. "My parents probably thought I was crazy. I played Pop-O-Matic, Strat-O-Matic, all that stuff. I pretended I was the manager and the general manager."
Since he was in the minors, Krivda has kept notes on specific hitters he has faced, where they hit the ball, how they react to off-speed pitches. He had jottings on several of the Oakland hitters he faced Monday night, when he beat the Athletics. "I do go into starts with some thoughts in my mind how to pitch guys," he said. "That's got to help you."
Around the horn
Alan Mills pitched the ninth in last night's win, his first appearance since last June. . . . Ripken was wrestling on the floor with reliever Armando Benitez before last night's game, and Johnson suggested they stop. "You'd think if a guy [Benitez] could wrestle, he could pitch," Johnson said, smiling. Benitez, who pitched batting practice Monday, will make his first rehabilitation appearance Friday at Double-A Bowie. . . . Alomar received a box of T-shirts yesterday, on which is lettering that refers to the Three Amigos -- Alomar, Bonilla and Palmeiro. . . . Jesse Orosco allowed 12 of his 13 earned runs going into last night in back-to-back outings April 18-19, against Boston and Texas. Otherwise, his ERA is 0.90, in 10 innings. . . . With his save Monday night, Randy Myers tied Dave Righetti for ninth on the all-time list with 252. . . . Before last night's outburst, the Orioles had only had 10 or more hits twice in their past 10 games. . . . Mike Devereaux had gone nine games since his last RBI going into last night.
Pub Date: 5/15/96