Myers, Johnson agree to disagree Manager defends decision to remove closer

ORIOLES NOTEBOOK

September 20, 1996|By Jason LaCanfora | Jason LaCanfora,SUN STAFF

NEW YORK -- Orioles closer Randy Myers reiterated his disapproval of being removed from Wednesday's 3-2 loss, and manager Davey Johnson defended the move yesterday.

Myers walked the first two batters with a one-run lead in the ninth inning, then got the first out before being replaced by Alan Mills. Myers told reporters after Wednesday's game that he believes it is the closer's job to get three outs before allowing a run, and Johnson did not give him a chance to do that.

Yesterday, Johnson defended his insertion of Mills, who had retired 18 straight batters, and said he "did not take kindly" to Myers' questioning his decision.

"This is not the place [New York] I want to start having discussions with my players, with all of the media attention," Johnson said.

The manager also said it was "a little bit disturbing" to see Myers nibble with the first two batters he faced rather than going after them.

"This is no different than creating matchups favorable for the ballclub," said Johnson, who preferred the Yankees' Bernie Williams batting left-handed against Mills than right-handed (his stronger side) against Myers. "He's a good competitor. I'd like to see him be a little more aggressive in the strike zone. That's just strictly matchups. He was flying open all over the place and getting the ball up.

"Maybe it was just the situation he was in. The closer doesn't think anybody should ever come behind him, but the guy coming behind him [Mills] has good stuff, too."

Johnson used Mills and Myers, but in reverse order, in Game 2 last night. Mills pitched the eighth and got two outs in the ninth -- around a two-run homer by Williams -- before Myers came on to strike out pinch hitter Tino Martinez for the last out and his 30th save.

Myers said the previous two times when his team began using multiple closers, in 1991 with the Cincinnati Reds and 1995 with the Chicago Cubs, he was not with the team the following year.

"I don't know too many teams that win, or have won, with multiple closers," Myers said. "If I am a left-handed setup man, that's what I have to live with. He's been putting me in one-run games and having me finish them. Last [Wednesday] night he didn't do that and it came back and bit us. "

Myers said his removal is a sign to him that Johnson also will be willing to pull his three, four or five hitters in the ninth inning if they don't match up well with a certain closer.

"If you're going to [replace your closer], then you're telling your team that you're going to do that in every position," Myers said.

Relief for Rogers

Kenny Rogers was supposed to take a beating timidly and walk off the field to a chorus of abuse from the Yankee Stadium crowd.

Rogers, the New York starter in Game 1 of the doubleheader, is frequently knocked for being soft on the mound and even the Yankees wondered about his ability to win big games before signing the free agent last winter.

But after shutting out the Orioles for 5 2/3 innings on just three hits yesterday, Rogers returned to the dugout a hero. He won for the first time in five weeks (a span of five starts) and had reason to feel content and proud of his pennant race effort.

"I've satisfied myself, and I think that's the starting point," Rogers said. "I was relaxed. I felt fine and things worked out fine."

"It was a very big start for him, but I felt pretty good about it," manager Joe Torre said. "From the way he's been acting the last 10 days or so, he just seemed to be more relaxed and enjoying himself a little more."

Coppinger feeling good

Rocky Coppinger said he feels good and is ready to start today's game against Toronto.

Coppinger alerted the Orioles to pain in his forearm after his last few starts, including Sunday's in Detroit. Coppinger has not thrown off a mound since then. He played catch and long toss leading up to today, and said his arm feels better because of the rest.

"My arm is fine," said Coppinger, a 22-year-old rookie. "There's no question that nothing is wrong with my arm. It feels good for now, but you can't really tell until you throw off a mound."

Ball deal to close Tuesday

Dan Jones, who caught Eddie Murray's 500th home run, has agreed to sell it for $500,000 to Michael Lasky, who wants to display it in the Harrison's Pier Five Hotel downtown in which he is part-owner.

The ball will be transported by armored car from a bank safe deposit box Tuesday and exchanged at a news conference at noon.

Record-setting bruise

When Brady Anderson was hit by a David Cone pitch in the third inning of the second game, he set an Orioles record and tied the American League record for left-handed hitters. It was the 21st time Anderson was hit by a pitch this season, passing Bobby Grich's Orioles mark (set in 1974) and equaling Harry Gessler's AL lefty standard, set in 1911.

Boggs, Raines pace opener

A couple of maligned Yankees -- Wade Boggs and Tim Raines -- led their team's charge to victory in the first game yesterday.

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