Johnson laments lack of OF depth Polonia's injury magnifies organizational weakness


June 21, 1996|By Jason LaCanfora | Jason LaCanfora,SUN STAFF

Left fielder Luis Polonia was a last-minute scratch from yesterday's lineup.

Polonia has a slight groin pull that manager Davey Johnson did not want him to aggravate. Polonia is considered day-to-day.

Any injury to an outfielder magnifies the lack of depth at that position in the team's farm system.

"There's not much depth there," Johnson said. "We've got some journeymen Triple-A players. Joe Hall is probably playing the best of any of them. One of our goals this year was to establish a young outfielder."

Tony Tarasco was acquired for that reason in the spring, but he will likely be out for the rest of the year with tendinitis in his throwing shoulder. Tarasco is getting a second opinion from Dr. Frank Jobe in California today.

Jeffrey Hammonds struggled with the Orioles this year. He was demoted to Triple-A on Monday and reported to Rochester yesterday. Mark Smith was one of the few major-league-ready outfield prospects in the system and he took Hammonds' place with the Orioles. He replaced Polonia in the lineup yesterday.

"Tarasco had a fairly good first six weeks last year, and we were hoping he'd come on this year," Johnson said. "We still have a very good chance to win here, but part of winning should be to establish some young players. We still have hope that Jeffrey will get squared away."

Rotation intact

Amazingly, the rain delays and postponements this week have not altered the Orioles pitching rotation.

All three of this weekend's starters will be well rested.

Rookie Rocky Coppinger will start tonight. Perfect, since he last worked on Sunday and beat the Kansas City Royals, this weekend's opponent. Scott Erickson, tomorrow's starter, also will be working on his regular four days' rest, while Rick Krivda will be going on three days' rest.

But Krivda only pitched one inning in Wednesday's Game 2 rainout and said he would be fine to go again on Sunday.

"We've been pretty fortunate we haven't had to do any drastic changes to our rotation," Johnson said. "It hasn't been like somebody has had to pitch for two innings then sit through a two-hour or three-hour rain delay. We've been pretty lucky with that."

Wanted: Bold base-running

Johnson wants the Orioles to be more aggressive on the base paths, despite the running mishaps by Polonia and Smith in Wednesday's 3-2 loss to the Rangers.

"If you never run and you sit there with your finger in your nose, you don't win ballgames," Johnson said. "We need to play smart. Just going station-to-station doesn't win you ballgames unless you're the best offensive, defensive and pitching team in the league. The last time I checked, we weren't any of those."

Johnson said he is still baffled by American League baseball, with more emphasis on the long ball and less on bunting and sacrificing to manufacture runs.

"If this club played my club last year in Cincinnati, I'd be running all of the time [on the Orioles]," Johnson said. "If somebody cocks their arm, we're gone. They could pitch out if they want to. We're still running."

Pub Date: 6/21/96

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