Confident Johnson sees no need to add pitcher With Rhodes 'ready to go,' Orioles content to keep 10

October 08, 1997|By Roch Kubatko | Roch Kubatko,SUN STAFF

Orioles manager Davey Johnson doesn't plan to add an 11th pitcher for the American League Championship Series, saying any team that needs more than 10 in a short series probably won't win it.

His opponent, the Cleveland Indians, are expected to add an 11th pitcher today, dropping rookie infielder Enrique Wilson.

That should make for some interesting reading between the lines.

The rosters will be announced at noon today, and the Orioles most likely will stay with the status quo rather than inflating their staff or activating a left-handed hitter such as Tony Tarasco to combat the Indians' surplus of right-handed starters.

"I don't anticipate any changes in the roster at this time," Johnson said.

That includes inserting pitcher Rick Krivda at the expense of utility infielder Aaron Ledesma, who didn't play in the Division Series against the Seattle Mariners.

"If I didn't feel my starting pitching was strong, I'd probably go with 11. If I felt like there were some weak links in the bullpen, I might go with 11. Ten is plenty, especially when you're maybe not even using a fourth starter," Johnson said.

Scott Kamieniecki remains in the bullpen for now, but internal discussions point to the right-hander starting Monday's Game 5 in Cleveland, if necessary, so left-hander Jimmy Key wouldn't have to work on short rest after pitching Game 2 tomorrow. Key then would go Wednesday in Game 6, and Mike Mussina the next night in Game 7, if the series went that far.

"Anytime you have a seven-game series, you wait and see what happens in 1, 2 and 3 before you start deciding 4, 5, 6 and 7," Johnson said.

Any decisions he'll need to make during the series concerning his bullpen became easier with the news yesterday that left-hander Arthur Rhodes reported no pain in his left forearm after throwing for about eight minutes. He had been questionable for tonight.

"As far as I'm concerned, he'll be a go," Johnson said.

"I felt good. I'm ready to go," said Rhodes, who threw 2 1/3 scoreless innings against Seattle in Game 3, striking out four, before leaving with a stiff forearm. The discomfort worsened the next morning but apparently has subsided with treatment.

Johnson didn't reveal tonight's lineup, partly because he's still wrestling with his options at designated hitter. Left-handed-hitting Harold Baines would seem a natural against Indians right-hander Chad Ogea, especially after going 3-for-7 (.429) with two RBIs against him this year. But right-handed-hitting Geronimo Berroa is 5-for-9 (.556) against Ogea in his career and went 3-for-4 with a home run during the season.

"I've been thinking about it since about 12 o'clock last night. At this point, I haven't made a decision on it," Johnson said.

Right-handers Charles Nagy, Orel Hershiser and Jaret Wright also are in Cleveland's rotation, giving Johnson what he called "a lot of good choices" regarding who plays.

"It does present some problems," Johnson said, clearly happy to be saddled with them.

Berroa could end up in right field, with Eric Davis going to the bench. Berroa hit .385 (5-for-13) with two homers in the Division Series. Davis was 2-for-9 (.222), delivering two runs with a single in Game 1.

"I'll just come in and see if I'm playing or not. There's nothing else I can do," said Berroa, who is 7-for-24 (.292) lifetime against Ogea and 3-for-10 (.300) against Hershiser.

"I could go over and erase the lineup and put my name in it."

Pub Date: 10/08/97

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