Garcia, Johns hit road to Rochester

ORIOLES NOTEBOOK

DeShields, Linton take their roster spots

Ponson testing Miller's patience

April 12, 1999|By Roch Kubatko | Roch Kubatko,SUN STAFF

Needing to make room on the 25-man roster before yesterday's game against Toronto, the Orioles optioned rookie infielder Jesse Garcia and left-hander Doug Johns to Triple-A Rochester. In corresponding moves, second baseman Delino DeShields came off the disabled list, and pitcher Doug Linton was activated and given his first major-league start since 1996.

DeShields didn't have much to say about his return. "I'm just ready to play ball. That's it," he said before going 0-for-3 with a walk in the Orioles' 9-5 loss. "I knew I'd be back. It's patience."

Signed to a three-year, $12.5 million deal over the winter, DeShields hadn't faced major-league pitching until yesterday. He fractured his left thumb while catching a line drive March 4 in an intrasquad game, and didn't play again until appearing in two simulated games last week at the minor-league camp in Sarasota, Fla. DeShields also made two rehab starts at Double-A Bowie, going 2-for-6 with two walks.

Johns appeared in two games, allowing three runs and seven hits in six innings. Both outings came after his arrest last Monday night in Baltimore on charges of possession of marijuana, possession of drug paraphernalia, driving while intoxicated and failure to obey a traffic signal.

"I told him it had absolutely nothing to do with that," said manager Ray Miller. "It's something that's there, but that was our initial plan before that happened."

Garcia's parting gift came Saturday afternoon. Making his first major-league start, Garcia lined a single on the first pitch thrown to him by Toronto's Chris Carpenter. He held the ball yesterday, with the date and pitcher's name written in calligraphy, and planned to send it home to Texas for safekeeping.

"Everybody wishes they could get their first major-league hit, and for it to happen in my first at-bat, that's really exciting," he said.

Garcia anticipated yesterday's demotion hours before being called into Miller's office. "I saw it coming. It's no big deal. I'll be all right," he said.

"My confidence level is pretty good. I can't worry about anything. I'll just go there and do the same things I've been doing here and get back here soon.

"It's been sweet for me. To make the club out of spring training, I've got nothing to complain about. Nobody wants to go back, but in this situation I have to, and I'll be back here soon. I know I can play here. I'm not worried about that."

Garcia showed the world in the March 28 exhibition game in Cuba, making two outstanding plays at second in the 11th inning to preserve a 3-2 win. "That brought me out there. And the hit kind of put it all together for me, wrapped everything up," he said.

Garcia will play both second and shortstop at Rochester, alternating with Jerry Hairston, another highly regarded middle-infield prospect.

"I think Jesse Garcia's going to hit," Miller said. "I think he's going to be a very good player. He's going to be a multi-positional player, but I think he's going to be an everyday player."

Reboulet plays on, part-time

The club's other option in making room for DeShields was placing Jeff Reboulet on the disabled list. Reboulet continues to play with pain in his left heel caused by tendinitis. Scratched from Saturday's lineup, he remains available if needed.

"It wasn't good [Saturday] morning, but instead of running around out there during batting practice and standing around all day, I decided to come in and get hot and cold treatments on it," he said. "By the time the game rolled around, I felt pretty good about it.

"I was getting ready in the seventh inning, getting loose in case they needed me to go in."

Reboulet started the first four games, going 1-for-9 with four walks and three runs scored. Now, he returns to his usual job of utility infielder, healthy enough that Garcia isn't needed but enough of a concern within the organization that he'll be used carefully.

"Our medical people seem to think that Rebs in that role will be OK. It won't be as hard on his foot," Miller said. "I can still start him on an occasional basis and he should be all right. It's just the back-to-back starts that bother the foot."

Ponson tests patience

Sidney Ponson's next start comes Friday against the Blue Jays at SkyDome, after the Orioles conclude a three-game series in New York. He's coming off two forgettable outings, when he allowed six runs and 16 total bases in the first inning of the April 3 exhibition game in Birmingham, Ala., and when Toronto reached him for five runs in 2 2/3 innings on Friday after a one-hour, 35-minute rain delay.

Asked how patient he'll be with Ponson, who was available to pitch in relief yesterday, Miller said: "As patient as I can be."

"He's a commodity, a 22-year-old kid with real good stuff," Miller said. "The only thing I saw the other day was a 22-year-old kid who was all pumped up."

Miller didn't like what he saw of Ponson this spring. Though he again spent some time in January at Duke University's diet and fitness center, Ponson reported to Fort Lauderdale, Fla., heavier than Miller wanted.

"I not really pleased with the condition he showed up in. I think that set him back. I don't think that was very smart on his behalf," Miller said. "That's a lesson for him to learn, but not necessarily at my expense."

Around the horn

Will Clark extended his hitting streak to six games with a first-inning RBI single. He also homered in the ninth. Brady Anderson reached on infield hits his first two at-bats, both times beating out grounders to short. He also walked leading off the fifth and again in the sixth.

Pub Date: 4/12/99

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