To Johnson, Lasorda one of greats O's manager says friend belongs in Hall of Fame

Orioles Notebook

July 31, 1996|By Buster Olney | Buster Olney,SUN STAFF

MINNEAPOLIS -- Tommy Lasorda, who stepped down as manager of the Dodgers on Monday, used to wage war with Davey Johnson when Johnson managed the New York Mets. Johnson recalled, very specifically, moments from the wild 1988 NL playoffs, when the Dodgers beat the Mets in seven games.

"He's been so great for baseball," Johnson said, "and he's been a great friend of mine. To me, he's a Hall of Famer, unquestionably. He's had such a great career."

Johnson thought Lasorda, coming back from heart trouble, made the right decision in stepping down. "There's no sense in him having the stress that comes with this job," Johnson said. "His health, to me, is the most important thing.

"He's been such a good ambassador for baseball. I'll miss seeing him on the field."

Hindsight is easy

Johnson spoke at length yesterday about what he's seen in the Orioles this year, and some of the team's off-season moves.

It would be easy to say the team would like to have back Ben McDonald and Kevin Brown, two free-agent pitchers who are having success elsewhere. "But could we have afforded to bring Ben back, and Kevin Brown?" Johnson asked rhetorically.

"With Ben, there was some question about the health of his arm, and with Brown, you had to ask if you were ready to give him $5 million a year for three years.

"The feeling was, too, that Jimmy Haynes was going to be all right, and [Kent] Mercker. But unfortunately, [Haynes] had a few problems and Mercker had some problems. . . . Pat [Gillick] did a great job of picking up the personnel he did pick up -- B. J. [Surhoff] and Roger [McDowell] and [Roberto] Alomar. Those guys have done a good job."

Johnson said he's never "really ever been displeased with the effort" of the Orioles this year. "I've come to know the guys on this ballclub," Johnson said.

"I know the effort is there. We just haven't pitched as well as we're capable of, and we've had a few little injuries. I've never felt like this team has gone through the motions. It always plays hard.

"I'd say I've had two or three times this year when I've had harsh words for the club -- but only a couple of times, and it was to vent anger and frustration."

Anderson is 'remarkable'

Brady Anderson was back in the lineup yesterday. He had re-strained his right quad, which he originally injured in May and re-strained the next month. Anderson has also had a bout with what appeared to be appendicitis, but has missed only 11 games. "The trainers warned me: Brady is going to play," Johnson said before last night's game.

"Brady's a remarkable athlete. He plays hard. He does whatever he can do to play. He played with appendicitis, or whatever that was. Normally, when a guy comes out of a game like that, you're going to give him two or three days [off]."

Miscellaneous

The Orioles are close to re-calling outfielder Jeffrey Hammonds from Triple-A Rochester, Johnson said. Hammonds, sent down June 17, started slowly for the Red Wings, but has hit well in July, his average climbing toward .300. . . . Reliever Armando Benitez, out since April 18 with a strained flexor and a slight ligament tear in his elbow, began throwing off a mound Monday in Sarasota, Fla., and there's a chance he can return sometime in August. Benitez will throw off a mound about every other day for the next two weeks, and should he continue to pitch pain-free, he could then begin a minor-league rehab assignment. . . . Another possible call-up is catcher Cesar Devarez, but Johnson said he doesn't want to promote Devarez if he isn't going to play. . . . Relief is on the way. Left-hander Arthur Rhodes and right-hander McDowell, both on the disabled list with shoulder trouble, could both be activated within the next five days. . . . Mark Smith, placed on the disabled list after fouling a ball off his leg, said he'll be ready to return when he's eligible to be activated next week. . . . Going into last night's game, Alomar was hitting .366 (15-for-41) since the All-Star break. . . . Bobby Bonilla leads the American League with 12 sacrifice flies. . . . The Oriole Advocates will host the 12th Oriole Advocates Hall of Fame luncheon on Aug. 23 at the Sheraton Inner Harbor Hotel. PTC This year's Orioles Hall of Fame inductees are Cal Ripken Sr., Billy Hunter and former team owner Jerry Hoffberger. For information, call 252-0268 or 659-9160.

Pub Date: 7/31/96

Hits and misses

On The field: In the top of the first inning, Roberto Alomar drove a high fly to left with runners on first and second, a ball headed for the seats. But Minnesota left fielder Marty Cordova backed up against the wall, leaped and took the homer away from Alomar -- the second time in two games it's happened to the second baseman. Kenny Lofton took a homer away from him in Sunday's game against Cleveland.

In the dugout: Manager Davey Johnson argued a strange play that occurred in the bottom of the fourth inning. After Eddie Murray walked, Mike Devereaux smashed a line drive off the foot of pitcher Scott Aldred. The ball bounced to third baseman Dave Hollins, who threw to first to double off Murray. The umpires ruled Devereaux's liner never hit the ground.

In the clubhouse: Minnesota starter Frank Rodriguez was quickly sent back to the clubhouse after allowing the first five Orioles hitters to reach base -- on two walks, a single, a double and an error. When Twins manager Tom Kelly stepped out of the dugout to make the change, Rodriguez stared in disbelief.

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