Ripken to sit out innings, anyway Johnson late-month plan has down time for many

Orioles Notebook

Rhodes out with strain

September 03, 1997|By Joe Strauss and Roch Kubatko | Joe Strauss and Roch Kubatko,SUN STAFF

MIAMI -- Orioles manager Davey Johnson said yesterday that he would prefer to rest a number of players later this month if the standings permit, and that third baseman Cal Ripken could be part of the sit-down exercise.

However, Johnson explained that while outfielders Brady Anderson, Jeffrey Hammonds and B. J. Surhoff could miss a series of games if the standings allow, Ripken would receive his down time in increments of innings.

Going 2-for-4 last night, Ripken is hitting .373 over his past 29 games. He started his 2,451st consecutive game and despite suffering from periodic back spasms this season has given no indication of when he might sit down.

"I will approach him about taking some more time off in games," Johnson said, adding that he expects the club to promote another infielder from Triple-A Rochester within the next couple weeks.

The return of second baseman Roberto Alomar also would allow him more flexibility with Aaron Ledesma, but Alomar is not expected back in the near future after reinjuring his groin in his return Aug. 26.

Johnson described Ripken's back condition as much improved and cited his "incredible energy level" as reason enough for him to continue his record run.

Strain idles Rhodes

Reliever Arthur Rhodes, who pitched two scoreless innings Sunday against the New York Mets, has a strained muscle on his right side that doctors said is going to take about five days to clear up.

He was examined before last night's game, then insisted he could pitch and would be available for the series in New York beginning tomorrow.

"It's just that the lower side of the right rib is hurting," Rhodes tTC said, adding that the injury happened while throwing a pitch in Baltimore a week ago.

Before last night's game, Johnson said, "They're going to make sure there's nothing that's going to be getting worse. The word I had before was, it's there but it's not bothering him to pitch. But then I got the word [Monday] maybe he shouldn't pitch."

Needing a long reliever Monday to replace starter Scott Erickson after the fifth inning, Johnson could turn only to right-hander Shawn Boskie, fresh off the disabled list. Boskie was charged with three runs in one-third of an inning and took the loss.

"Physically, I felt good," said Boskie, who hadn't pitched since Aug. 15 because of elbow tendinitis. "I wasn't sure what it would feel like, having that first game action in a couple weeks. But things didn't turn out the way I wanted. I look at that as the getting-past stage, getting locked back in."

Right-hander Brian Williams had thrown more than 100 pitches in a start at Rochester before being added to the roster Monday and wasn't available.

This is Williams' second stint with the Orioles. He appeared in seven games in relief from May 10 to June 11, not allowing a hit or a run in his first six outings. He gave up seven hits and two runs in 4 2/3 innings at Boston on June 11 before being sent down, then made nine starts in 22 appearances with the Red Wings.

"Right now, I could do either," Williams said of starting or relieving. "I'm to the point where I could go for a long time. When I came up here the first time, it was different. I was surprised I was able to throw that many innings in Boston."

Maybe next week for Davis

Johnson said he didn't expect Eric Davis to rejoin the club and be activated from the 60-day disabled list until the two-game series in Cleveland beginning Monday.

Davis flew home to Los Angeles because of the death of his older brother, Jimmy, from an undetermined cause. Johnson said he would have used Davis as a pinch runner Monday instead of Rhodes if he had been here.

Swift released

Any thoughts the Orioles had of adding pitcher Bill Swift for the stretch run ended with the right-hander's release after just 3 2/3 innings at Triple-A Rochester.

Swift, signed last week after being let go by the Colorado Rockies, was 0-1 with a 4.91 ERA in two relief appearances. He allowed two hits, walked three and struck out two.

The Orioles had hoped the 12-year veteran would be able to start one game of the Sept. 15 and 16 doubleheaders against the Cleveland Indians, then decreased their expectations to adding the right-hander to the bullpen. But he never showed that he was healthy enough after four seasons of elbow problems to pitch effectively at the major-league level.

Walton OK after first action

Outfielder Jerome Walton didn't report any pain or stiffness in his legs after starting Monday for the first time since April 22, three days before going on the disabled list with a pulled hamstring.

"I felt pretty good," said Walton, who played left field and went 1-for-4 with a walk. "Today, I'm not sore at all, so that's a good sign."

Walton said he was concerned about running on a wet outfield. "I was thinking about it, like, 'Man, I hope I don't slip out there and aggravate it.' "

Walton served as a pinch hitter last night, grounding out with the bases loaded.

Palmeiro vs. Big Unit?

Will Rafael Palmeiro start in Game 1 of the playoffs if the opposing pitcher is Seattle left-hander Randy Johnson? Palmeiro normally sits against the Big Unit, but his manager said it depends "on a number of things."

"It depends on the health of some people," said Johnson.

What if everybody's healthy? "That's a big if," he said.

Palmeiro had a big response when asked if he wanted to face Randy Johnson.

"Yes. I'm going to be playing."

Around the horn

Minor-league pitcher Mark Seaver has been sent to the Oakland Athletics as the player to be named in the June 27 trade that brought outfielder Geronimo Berroa to the Orioles for right-hander Jimmy Haynes. Seaver, the club's fourth-round selection in last year's draft, was 3-2 with a 3.05 ERA in 11 games at Single-A Frederick. About 30,000 tickets remain for the last 14 regular-season home games, with about 17,000 of those available for the day-game makeups with Cleveland Sept. 15 and 16.

Pub Date: 9/03/97

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