Indians' Ogea adds moisture to claims of Hershiser spitter 'He cheats. Why not?' starter says after Johnson revives longtime debate

ALCS notebook

October 13, 1997|By Joe Strauss, Roch Kubatko and Don Markus | Joe Strauss, Roch Kubatko and Don Markus,SUN STAFF

CLEVELAND -- Cleveland Indians pitcher Chad Ogea admitted before last night's game what Orioles manager Davey Johnson suggested and many others within baseball have long maintained:

Not all of Orel Hershiser's pitches are legal.

Asked to address Johnson's allegations that Hershiser repeatedly moistened the ball by going to his mouth and neck during Saturday's 2-1 Indians win, Ogea stunned a media gathering by saying, "I've known Orel for three years. He cheats. And just about everybody else does. Why not?"

Unsure whether Ogea was joking, a follow-up question drew a further response. "He showed me how to cheat but said I couldn't use it until I was 35. If I stay around that long, I'll get the privilege to cheat."

Hershiser was asked to address Ogea's comments but declined. Team spokesman Bart Swain said the pitcher was receiving treatment and had nothing to say.

Indians general manager John Hart said: "Orel does not doctor the baseball, period," when informed of Johnson's comments.

Hart doesn't mind such talk. "It's the postseason," he said. "I'm sure there's some gamesmanship involved. If that's what people think, that's great."

Johnson raised the issue after Saturday's second inning when he complained to plate umpire John Hirschbeck that Hershiser was repeatedly wiping moisture onto the ball, a rules violation.

"I know from my experience that Orel likes to put water on the back of his neck," said Johnson, whose managerial path has closely mirrored Hershiser's move from the National League to the American League. "He prefers to have the cover of the ball wet as opposed to dry, and he will get water wherever he can get it. He was going right from his mouth to the ball, and that's illegal. I wanted to point it out to them, and at least have Orel thinking about it."

The issue only added heat to a series that has seen Indians manager Mike Hargrove curse Johnson for trying to gain advantage through delay tactics. Hargrove became infuriated Saturday when Johnson took trainer Richie Bancells with him to the mound to check on Arthur Rhodes. At the time, Randy Myers had yet to begin warming and Hargrove believed Johnson's visit was actually a stall.

"We felt Davey was trying to buy time to get Randy Myers ready," said Hargrove, who shouted at the Orioles manager while complaining to the umpiring crew. "In my mind, he was trying to buy time. I felt it was not right, although there is nothing that can be done about it."

Hargrove said anyone who doesn't expect managerial gamesmanship at this time of the year "is missing the boat," but he stopped short of making the accusation against Johnson.

Shades of Piniella

Hargrove isn't the first manager upset at Johnson for checking on Rhodes.

Seattle's Lou Piniella still is convinced that Johnson removed Rhodes before the ninth inning of Game 3 of the Division Series to force Mariners starter Jeff Fassero, who was working on a shutout, to sit an extra 10 or 15 minutes. Johnson said that Rhodes had some stiffness in his upper left forearm, and didn't use him again until Saturday's Game 3 of the ALCS.

Johnson said he checked on Rhodes because the left-hander wasn't throwing his slider, which the manager took as an indication that the forearm might be bothering him.

"He said it wasn't, but I think he's a little leery about throwing his slider," Johnson said before last night's game, in which Rhodes was again used, relieving Scott Erickson in the fifth. He went 1 1/3 innings, allowing one hit and two walks.

"I think it's bothering him a little bit, but not to the point where he can't perform," said catcher Lenny Webster.

O's shake lineup

Trying to aid an offense that has been scuffling for runs, Johnson made some changes to his lineup for Game 4. He put Geronimo Berroa into right field in place of Eric Davis and batted him third, inserted designated hitter Harold Baines into the cleanup spot, dropped Rafael Palmeiro to fifth and lowered B. J. Surhoff to seventh.

The shakeup paid huge dividends.

Surhoff, 2-for-11 in the ALCS before last night, doubled in the Orioles' first run in the second inning and sliced another double to left field in the third.

Baines, who had been 3-for-8, hit a two-run homer in the third, and Palmeiro followed with his first postseason homer, which also accounted for his first RBI.

Berroa singled in a run off the left-field wall in the seventh inning to reduce Cleveland's lead to 7-6 and Palmeiro's infield single tied it in the ninth.

Long time manager

Johnson has been involved in the two longest games in terms of time in LCS history. His New York Mets needed 4: 42 to defeat the Houston Astros in a game in the 1986 NLCS, which lasted 16 innings. The record stood until Saturday's 4: 51 marathon, which was won by Cleveland in 12 innings.

"I only like to look back to a couple days ago. I might get the wrong flashback," he said. "I try to remain positive."

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