Johnson considers four-man rotation Wells, Coppinger like idea

Sidelight

Mussina might not

July 25, 1996|By Jason LaCanfora | Jason LaCanfora,SUN STAFF

Manager Davey Johnson said the Orioles are considering going to a four-man rotation.

Johnson said the team has had tentative discussions about dropping Jimmy Haynes from the rotation and sticking with Rocky Coppinger, Mike Mussina, David Wells and Scott Erickson.

Johnson has talked about the proposal with his coaching staff and the four starters, but he said no decision is imminent.

"I don't really want to do it at this time," Johnson said yesterday. "It really wouldn't start until after the off day [Monday]. We might have to bring them back on three days' rest after the off day."

Pitching coach Pat Dobson said he does not expect the Orioles to switch to a four-man rotation, but Wells and Erickson are scheduled to make their next starts on three days' rest, anyway. Dobson said Wells is expected to start Saturday and Erickson, last night's starter, is expected to start Sunday.

"Right now it is still only in the consideration stage," Dobson said of the four-man setup. "The pros are we're short in the bullpen and it gives us a chance to go with six relievers. There really are no cons. The most they would have to pitch on three days' rest is three times. They've got some off days."

Johnson said another consideration would be to replace Haynes with Rick Krivda in the starting rotation. Haynes was available for bullpen duty last night and Dobson said Haynes may stay there, depending on his success and the health of the other relievers.

Triple-A right-hander Garrett Stephenson could be a possibility as a fifth starter, too. Stephenson has thrown three straight complete games for the Rochester Red Wings, yielding just three hits, striking out 19, walking five and recording a 1.44 ERA. Johnson said a call-up for Stephenson or a move to a four-man rotation would hinge on other developments.

"It depends on how we do some things offensively," Johnson said. "It depends on how healthy we are. . . . If you're going to do it, do it with everybody."

Johnson said the extra work probably would help Wells and Erickson, although Johnson would be a little worried about Coppinger, tonight's starter, since the rookie had some tendinitis last year.

Mussina appears to have some reservations about going to a four-man rotation after years of success on four days' rest. Mussina said he would not comment on the proposed move, but Wells and Coppinger embraced the idea.

Coppinger said he is not worried about the tendinitis and he's eager for more work.

"I made my appearance out of the bullpen on three days' rest and my arm felt good," Coppinger said. "It responded well. Maybe pitching on three days might strengthen my arm. I'm for it. . . . I pitched on a one-man rotation in college [Hillsboro, Texas, Junior College]. We'd play Wednesday, Friday and Saturday. I started most of them, then relieved when I didn't start."

Wells said he pitched on three days' rest for a while in 1993 with the Detroit Tigers and, after a small adjustment period, his arm was fine.

"I'm all for it," Wells said. "It might help turn things around. The first five or six days can be a little bit hectic, but it's no problem as long as you don't go crazy and throw 120 pitches or something like that."

Pub Date: 7/25/96

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