Lefty Milchin claimed from Twins Breaking-ball pitcher is likely to be used in specialty situations

ORIOLES NOTEBOOK

August 09, 1996|By Buster Olney | Buster Olney,SUN STAFF

MILWAUKEE -- Arthur Rhodes is out at least for another month, Roger McDowell is coming back slowly and the Orioles are scrambling to rebuild their bullpen for the stretch drive. Yesterday, they claimed left-hander Mike Milchin off waivers from the Minnesota Twins, and they intend to give veteran right-hander Archie Corbin a chance to establish himself.

Milchin, 28, is a breaking-ball specialist, the type of reliever managers use for one or two hitters at a time to stem rallies in the middle innings. For instance, if the Orioles are facing the Yankees, Milchin could be used as the guy to pitch to Wade Boggs.

When he's given extensive work, however, Milchin has gotten hammered. "He didn't pitch well against us," Orioles manager Davey Johnson said. "We'll try him and see how he does."

In 26 relief appearances for Minnesota, he had an 8.31 ERA, allowing 31 hits, 21 runs (20 earned) and 12 walks, striking out 19 in 21 2/3 innings pitched. Milchin had a 3.78 ERA for Triple-A Salt Lake before joining the Twins, and left-handed hitters were 5-for-21 against him.

Milchin, who cost the Orioles $20,000, is expected to join the team today in Chicago. The Orioles are expected to demote Esteban Yan or Keith Shepherd to make room for Milchin on the roster.

Johnson said yesterday that he would like Corbin to assume the role he projected for the injured Armando Benitez, the hard-throwing right-hander brought in when a strikeout is needed. Corbin, 28, throws a 95-mph fastball, and he struck out 47 in 43 2/3 innings.

"One thing I've learned about this league," Johnson said, "is that you need guys who miss bats. With small ballparks and a smaller strike zone, that's important."

Corbin can make hitters miss bats, but he has a history of missing the strike zone. In 8 2/3 innings for the Orioles this year, he has walked nine.

Hammonds breaks out

Jeffrey Hammonds is hitting .321 since he was recalled from Triple-A Rochester.

"He's showing a lot more patience at the plate," Johnson said. "If he was swinging the bat like this early in the season, we would've won two games from the Yankees."

Johnson said he could recall some at-bats against the Yankees early in the season when Hammonds hacked at pitches far out of the strike zone in critical situations.

"Sometimes when expectations are really high, and a player can feel it, they'll be really anxious to make something happen," Johnson said.

Around the horn

Bobby Bonilla has hit in seven straight games. . . . Orioles broadcaster Mike Flanagan refers to buddies Rocky Coppinger and David "Boomer" Wells as Rocky and Boomwinkle. . . . Eddie Murray tied Dave Winfield for seventh in the career ranking for at-bats, reaching 11,003. . . . Wells was chagrined when, before Wednesday's game, cameras caught him dancing in the giant beer mug that looms over center field at County Stadium. Wells was asked whether there was beer in the mug. "No," Wells said. "If there was, I would've drank it." . . . The day Murray joined the Orioles, Johnson asked him whether he could play first base. Johnson says Murray told him his left, nonthrowing shoulder has been bothering him, and he had avoided getting the cortisone shot the Cleveland Indians had recommended for him. Sometime down the line, Murray may play some first base. "We'll address that when we come to it," Johnson said. "Right now, I like having somebody who likes being the designated hitter." . . . Jeff Huson and Luis Polonia, both designated for assignment last week, have cleared waivers. The Orioles probably won't have much choice other than to release the pair, which they must do in the next five days.

Orioles swinging for HR, RBI marks

No team has ever had more than five players drive in 100 runs in a season. The New York Yankees had five in 1936 (the NL record is four with 100 RBIs, by Pittsburgh in 1925, Chicago in 1929 and Philadelphia in 1929). The Orioles have six players with a chance to drive in 100 runs:

Player .......... RBIs .. Pace

Rafael Palmeiro .. 95 .... 136

Cal Ripken ....... 79 .... 113

Brady Anderson ... 78 .... 112

Bobby Bonilla .... 76 .... 109

Roberto Alomar ... 73 .... 105

B. J. Surhoff .... 68 ..... 97

No team has ever had more than six players hit 20 or more homers. The Orioles could have seven with 20 or more:

Player ........... HRs ... Pace

Brady Anderson ... 35 ..... 50

Rafael Palmeiro .. 28 ..... 40

Cal Ripken ....... 19 ..... 27

B. J. Surhoff .... 18 ..... 26

Chris Hoiles ..... 17 ..... 24

Roberto Alomar ... 16 ..... 23

Bobby Bonilla .... 16 ..... 23

Pub Date: 8/09/96

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