DETROIT -- A day after predicting that outfielder Eric Davis would not have to go on the disabled list, manager Davey Johnson modified his position as doctors continue to search for the cause of a mass discovered in Davis' abdomen.
Davis has not played since removing himself from last Saturday's game against the Cleveland Indians due to "excruciating" pain in his lower abdomen.
Johnson conceded yesterday that Davis will likely be placed on the disabled list if he is unable to play by Sunday or Monday. The club could disable him retroactive to May 25, which would make him ineligible to play again until June 9.
The mass in Davis' abdomen is infectious, and physicians are treating it by giving Davis intravenous antibiotics, said Dr. William Goldiner, one of the team's physicians.
Davis is in stable condition at University of Maryland Medical Center, with a catheter draining the infectious pocket.
Doctors ran more tests yesterday on the gastrointestinal area to determine why the 3 1/2 -inch mass formed under the abdominal wall, Goldiner said. It is considered an uncommon condition. Once results are back from yesterday's tests, along with the results of a second CT scan scheduled for this morning, Goldiner said they should have a better idea what caused it. He doesn't believe they will have to do a biopsy.
"Our suspicions are this is of benign origin," the doctor added. One possible cause is a perforation of the bowel that then walled itself off.
Rotation remains intact
Johnson remained true to his commitment to rookie Mike Johnson yesterday. Given a chance to skip his No. 5 starter, Johnson penciled in the 21-year-old for Saturday's game against Orel Hershiser. Johnson had been matched against Indians ace Charles Nagy for the second time.
As for suggestions Johnson may be returning to the bullpen to make room for a much-improved Shawn Boskie, the manager said that Boskie is more valuable where he is now.
"He's more valuable right where he is instead of starting," said Johnson. "Where he is now, the kid can get regular work. Boskie has the capacity to get in there every other day. I couldn't use the kid that way. It's not that I couldn't, I wouldn't."
Before the game was called, Johnson griped at the notion of a hot team being idled. However, the postponement allows him to position Jimmy Key and Mike Mussina for a two-game series with the Yankees next Tuesday and Wednesday.
Mathews in control
Five days after one of the worston-field episodes of his career, reliever Terry Mathews believes he has regained his command.
Mathews threw in the bullpen before Wednesday's game against the Tigers and believed himself cured of the wildness that led to four walks in Cleveland last Sunday and another two against the New York Yankees on Tuesday. In the future, Mathews says he will be more mindful of throwing on the side when he has endured a long layoff. His wipeout in Cleveland followed an eight-day layoff, an eternity for a pitcher who craves work.
"That's done with. I don't know if you would call it a dead arm or a too-live arm," he said. "I just didn't have any feel for my pitches. I wasn't even close. But I think it's more a matter of staying sharp."
Mathews walked four and threw a wild pitch without getting an out in last Sunday's 7-6 loss. He then walked two in two-thirds of an inning against the Yankees.
"In Cleveland, I had no clue," Mathews said. "I had no idea where the ball was going or if I could throw a strike. In New York, I thought I threw some pitches that weren't called strikes. That was a different situation."
Mathews has so far worked 15 games covering 20 innings.
Riding the bench
While the club continues to wait for Davis and prepares to classify the injured Jerome Walton as a former team member, Johnson has become an enthusiastic practitioner of a mix-and-match outfield.
Jeffrey Hammonds (14 starts) and Tony Tarasco (15) each have received significant time. Despite a just-completed exile, Pete Incaviglia has 23 starts, 15 as designated hitter and eight in right field.
"The Iron Man kind of mentality that exists here means that your bench people don't get in. One of the things last year was I felt like I didn't use the bench. You've got to use your bench," Johnson said. "This year, it's been easy. Last year, I had three utility infielders, but nobody came out. I've been able to use the outfielders because they've all been hurt."
Around the horn
The Orioles have had six postponements this year. As a result of yesterday's washout, they must play 18 games in the 17 days leading up to the All-Star break. After next Thursday, they will receive only one day off in 4 1/2 weeks. Johnson has pulled back on his optimistic view for Alan Mills. Sidelined by an April 11 collision with teammate Lenny Webster, the injured reliever is expected to have another examination today of his affected left shoulder. Mills is able to perform exercises with a two-pound weight but has not yet graduated to more resistance. Johnson, who had pushed for a rehab assignment to Bowie or Frederick, is now resigned to Mills' absence for at least another three weeks.
Pub Date: 5/30/97