Embattled closer Myers accepts that 'roles change' Lefty removed in ninth in back-to-back games

Orioles Notebook

September 01, 1996|By Buster Olney | Buster Olney,SUN STAFF

SEATTLE -- When Orioles manager Davey Johnson approached closer Randy Myers before Friday's game about the possibility of using other pitchers in save situations, he broached the subject in clever fashion.

Johnson reminded Myers how in 1986 and 1987, when then-New York Mets closer Jesse Orosco was having trouble finishing games, Johnson began using other pitchers in certain situations. Other pitchers, including a young left-hander named Randy Myers.

Several hours later, Myers gave up a couple of ninth-inning hits with the Orioles leading 5-2, and Johnson called for right-hander Alan Mills, the first time all year Myers was removed in a save situation. Mills struck out Jay Buhner and retired Brian Hunter on a groundout for his second save.

Myers left the game in abrupt fashion, handing Johnson the ball at the base of the mound, leaving the impression he was upset by the move. But after the game, Myers said he understood completely why Johnson made the change.

"There's no problem," said Myers, when asked if he could live with the change. "I've been on and off with my pitching. I haven't been in a real groove all year. . . . Roles change."

The roles won't change much. Myers is the closer and will be for the rest of the year. But he's had a hard time this year pitching against the Mariners, who have three of the best right-handed hitters in the AL -- Alex Rodriguez, Edgar Martinez and Buhner -- wrapped around the left-handed-hitting Ken Griffey.

Myers blew a save chance in Seattle on May 29 and another on Thursday, allowing a grand slam to Mark Whiten. That convinced Johnson that he needed to use his right-handers like Mills and Armando Benitez against Rodriguez, Martinez, et al in save situations.

Johnson gave Myers a chance to get the save Friday. The lefty entered the game in the eighth and struck out John Marzano, and he started the ninth; But Rodriguez singled to lead off, and after Griffey popped out, Martinez singled and Mills took over.

Mills couldn't remember the last time he was brought in to pitch in a save situation. "A-ball?" he said. "I don't know."

The Orioles' runs came on Eddie Murray's 499th homer, in the fourth inning, and a grand slam by Pete Incaviglia in the sixth.

Yesterday, Mills started the ninth inning and retired the first two hitters, both right-handed. Myers came in to face the left-handed-hitting Griffey and allowed a single, and Johnson called on Benitez, who struck out Martinez to end the game.

Surhoff waits for his turn

B. J. Surhoff hadn't been out of the starting lineup two straight games all year, until the last two games, when Todd Zeile played third base and Pete Incaviglia started in left field.

Johnson said Surhoff would've been in the starting lineup in left yesterday if not for the fact that Incaviglia hit a grand slam Friday. "He doesn't want to be a platoon player," Johnson said, "and he's not a platoon player. . . . He understands."

Johnson said Surhoff has been bothered by stiffness in his lower back and a hamstring.

Hey, I've got a game to play

A massive pileup on Interstate 5 near the Kingdome tied up traffic for hours Friday, and one of those caught in the jam was Orioles center fielder Brady Anderson. For 45 minutes, he sat in the back of a taxi.

But he could see the Kingdome off to his left, in the distance, so with the time for batting practice approaching, he got out of the taxi and ran to the Kingdome in dress shoes. "I hopped out on the street, and ran through a train station and across the parking lot," Anderson said, "into the dome and right out onto the field."

Coppinger's knee swells

Rocky Coppinger's surgically repaired knee swelled slightly after his start Friday night, but Johnson said he doesn't think it'll affect his next start.

But Johnson says he will monitor Coppinger's status closely. "He's probably pitched more this year than he ever has."

Around the horn

The Orioles held their fantasy football league draft at a local restaurant last night. Trainers Richie Bancells and Jamie Reed might have the best team name of all the participants: the Tape Sharks, named after a utensil used to cut medical tape. . . . Todd Zeile is only the fourth player in Orioles history to have a last name starting with the letter Z, following Gregg Zaun, Frank Zupo and George Zuverink. Incaviglia is the first Oriole with a last name starting with the letter I. . . . Seattle's Rodriguez, the AL's leading hitter, extended his career-best hitting streak to 16 games, going 2-for-4 to raise his average to .375.

Pub Date: 9/01/96

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