Johnson needs bullpen to pitch in To beat strong teams, relievers must step up

Orioles Notebook

August 10, 1996|By Buster Olney | Buster Olney,SUN STAFF

CHICAGO -- The Orioles have dismissed clubs playing under .500, winning 45 of 68. But, conversely, teams over .500 have dominated the Orioles, going 32-14 against them.

Manager Davey Johnson said yesterday that he thinks the reason is that whenever the Orioles have played a stretch of games against good teams, they have had bullpen problems. What that means for this series against the White Sox is open to interpretation.

The Orioles' bullpen certainly isn't deep. Esteban Yan has exactly one appearance for the Orioles this season, Archie Corbin has given up nine walks in 8 2/3 innings, and Mike Milchin, the newest Oriole, has an 8.31 ERA this season. Left-hander Rick Krivda is being used sparingly out of the bullpen, in case he has to make a start.

But the four key members of the bullpen -- closer Randy Myers, right-hander Roger McDowell, left-hander Jesse Orosco and right-hander Alan Mills -- went into this series well-rested. Mills has one appearance in the last three games, Myers has just three appearances in the past nine days, and Orosco and McDowell each only pitched once in the Milwaukee series.

"I think our bullpen is in good shape," Johnson said, before Myers surrendered the game-winning homer to Robin Ventura in the 10th inning. "We're playing a good club, but we're a good club. I think if we're going to be any sort of factor in the postseason, we've got to start beating teams over .500, and teams ahead of us."

A look at Milchin

Milchin, claimed on waivers from the Minnesota Twins, went through a mini-audition before yesterday's game, throwing for five or six minutes in the bullpen for pitching coach Pat Dobson and bullpen coach Elrod Hendricks. "I just wanted to see what he can do," Dobson said. "It was about 10 days since he had last pitched."

Milchin throws a fastball and a slider and will be used in middle and long relief -- and in situations where a left-hander is specifically needed. Milchin pitched in middle relief for the Twins, but, he said, he "had a couple of bad outings, and I guess they had seen enough."

Milchin was shocked the Orioles claimed him, especially after he struggled against them last week. On July 30, he allowed four runs in an inning against the Orioles, including three doubles, a single and walk.

"You never know," Johnson said. "We had a guy [in Cincinnati] who turned out to be pretty good -- Pete Schourek." (The Reds claimed Schourek on waivers from the New York Mets)

To make room for Milchin, the Orioles outrighted right-hander Keith Shepherd, who had an 8.71 ERA in 13 games and had allowed six homers in 20 2/3 innings. In his last appearance for the Orioles, Shepherd gave up two three-run homers to the Cleveland Indians in the span of four batters.

Around the horn

Johnson thinks his players have put the controversies of April, May and June behind them. "After 110 games, or whatever we've played," he said, "the getting-acquainted period is over. We've done more [growing] as a family. We've accepted each pTC other's shortcomings and put the focus on doing little things to win ballgames." . . . Mills isn't the sort of guy who carries a cellular phone around. "I'm still getting used to it," he said. But he does out of necessity now. Shareese Mills, his wife, is due to have their first child in nine days, and he figures the call to come home could come at any time. The Orioles play three games at home beginning Monday, and then will fly to Oakland next weekend. "I can't wait," he said. "I'm not nervous at all. Hopefully, everything will work out so that we'll be at home when the baby is born." . . . The Orioles checked with the Florida Marlins about the availability of John Burkett before Burkett was traded to Texas, but got no indication the Marlins were ready to deal. . . . Left-hander Arthur Rhodes, out until at least mid-September with shoulder trouble, rejoined the team yesterday to undergo medical treatment. . . . Domingo Martinez, a free-agent first baseman signed for Triple-A Rochester, had 11 hits in his first 16 at-bats with the Red Wings, with two homers and 13 RBIs. . . . Some of the young Orioles intend to play winter ball, Krivda among them. Manny Alexander said he wanted to take a month or two off before he starts playing winter ball in mid-December. . . . The Orioles are discussing possible minor-league promotions after Sept. 1. Among those likely to be called up are a third catcher (Gregg Zaun and/or B. J. Waszgis), an outfielder (Tony Tarasco, once he's healthy enough to play) and a couple of pitchers (Jimmy Haynes and Calvin Maduro from Triple-A and possibly one or two out of the group of Nerio Rodriguez, Sidney Ponson and Chris Fussell from Single-A Frederick). . . . Since being promoted to Triple-A, Maduro is 2-2 with a 2.08 ERA and five walks and 29 strikeouts in 26 innings. . . . Right-hander Oscar Munoz, who had been out with elbow problems, was activated by Rochester.

Pub Date: 8/10/96

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