Four-man rotation has Myers' backing Reliever encourages Mussina to embrace idea

ORIOLES NOTEBOOK

July 28, 1996|By Buster Olney | Buster Olney,SUN STAFF

Reliever Randy Myers endorsed the idea of the Orioles going to a four-man rotation yesterday -- and left no doubt he'd like ace Mike Mussina to go along with the plan, too.

Starters David Wells, Rocky Coppinger and Scott Erickson all have said they would like to go to a Myers four-man rotation. Mussina privately has expressed reservations about switching from a five-man rotation, in which he has had great success.

Myers said, "I don't see how anyone could go against it, because of where we're at and how we're doing. From what I understand, it's only going to affect three starts, anyway.

"It's a matter of adjusting. When they asked Cal [Ripken] to go to third, he did so -- he never said no. When they moved Brady [Anderson] in the lineup, he did it. B. J. [Surhoff] has moved."

Mussina had no comment.

Myers said, "I don't think it's right when your No. 1 starter says he doesn't want to do it, if he's saying that. . . . In the past, this team has a reputation of having a lot of individuals, and this is another example of someone putting himself in front of the team.

"You'd hope that he'd do it, because we've got to start making a push if we're going to [get in the postseason]."

Thrift on Mariners watch

Orioles farm director Syd Thrift planned to watch Triple-A Tacoma play last night, according to league sources, to scout catcher Chris Widger and infielder Desmond Relaford, as part of a deal with Seattle for Wells.

Thrift spoke at length with Seattle manager Lou Piniella and Mariners officials Friday night, and one Seattle source indicated they expect a trade to be made, as soon as the Orioles decide to move Wells.

Widger, 25, is known as a good catcher with a strong arm; going into last night's game, he was hitting .309 with nine homers and 37 RBIs for Tacoma. Relaford, 22, is in a tough spot: Drafted as a shortstop, Relaford is stuck behind Alex Rodriguez, a budding star actually younger than he is. Relaford is trying to make the switch to second base, and is hitting .209 with 10 stolen bases at Tacoma.

An American League source very familiar with both describes each this way:

Widger: "He's an everyday major-league catcher, with an above-average, major-league arm -- he throws like Sandy Alomar. He's got some power, and he could be a decent hitter. The only question for me is how much he'll break down. He goes out of the lineup with little bumps and things like that."

Relaford: "He should be a second baseman. He's a switch-hitter who hits equally from both sides of the plate, he can run a little bit and hit for a little bit of power. He's been erratic in the field, but I think that's just a matter of getting some games in for experience."

The Orioles continue to talk to other clubs about Bobby Bonilla, and their veteran relievers, Jesse Orosco and Roger McDowell, have drawn interest. The Orioles like both, but could trade BTC Orosco or McDowell and attempt to sign them back as free agents after the season.

A scout for the Chicago Cubs was in attendance at Camden Yards yesterday. The Orioles and Cubs have discussed a Brian McRae-for-Bonilla deal.

When asked if the Orioles had some deals in the offing, manager Davey Johnson said, "History has shown that in the past, when you take minor-league players and trade them for a veteran player . . . that usually doesn't work. What you can do is reverse that, and maybe that might help.

L "Do you know what I'm saying -- without actually saying it?"

Read between the lines.

Around the horn

Brian Falkenborg, the Orioles' top draft pick this year, made his first appearance of the year for Bluefield on Friday, allowing five hits and three runs in two innings. . . . The Orioles have scored 88 runs in 17 games since the All-Star break, an average of more than five per game. But the pitching staff has allowed 101 runs in 152 innings, an ERA of 5.98.

The injuries to McDowell, Arthur Rhodes and Armando Benitez have hampered the bullpen. "It's killing us," said Johnson. . . . Ryan Hendricks, the son of Orioles coach Elrod Hendricks, returned home from the hospital. Ryan, who plays for the Orioles' Single-A affiliate in High Desert, Calif., underwent surgery Wednesday at Children's Hospital to repair a ruptured disk. . . . McDowell will throw off the mound again Tuesday, and could be ready to come off the disabled list next weekend. . . . Roberto Alomar played without a splint on his left hand for the first time since spraining his finger before the All-Star break.

Pub Date: 7/28/96

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