Timlin: Miller's rip at players warranted

ORIOLES NOTEBOOK

Closer says manager is `just as frustrated' as everyone else on team

April 28, 1999|By Roch Kubatko | Roch Kubatko,SUN STAFF

For Orioles closer Mike Timlin, there were no hard feelings toward Ray Miller after the manager ripped into his club following Sunday's 11-10 loss to Oakland. It was, the reliever said, just part of Miller's responsibilities.

"We're not playing well. Maybe some of us need to have our butts kicked or get yelled at," said Timlin, who allowed a three-run homer to Tony Phillips in the ninth inning for his first blown save this season. "Obviously, there are different personalities all over the clubhouse and it's not only a manager's duty, but a pitching coach's duty, to find out who needs to be patted on the back and who needs to have their butt kicked and who needs to be left alone. Those are the three categories for individuals. That's a tough thing to do when you have a bunch of new guys.

"He's just as frustrated as we are. He's competitive. He's played this game. He wants to win as bad as we do. He's just frustrated because we're not playing well and he wants us to play well."

Despite the Orioles' beginning last night with the worst record in the majors, Timlin disputed the notion that the club is in serious trouble, with little hope of turning around a bad situation.

"We're not in dire straits here," he said. "We just need to relax and not put so much pressure on ourselves mentally and play like we need to play.

"If we go out and give 110 percent and we get our butts kicked, there's nothing you can do about that. If things don't go your way, and that happens in baseball, you've got to look at yourself in the mirror and say, `Look, I gave 110 percent and I lost today.' And if you're not doing that, then you shouldn't be able to look yourself in the eye."

Witasick right at home

For parts of the past three seasons, Baltimore native Jay Witasick had bounced between the Oakland roster and the minors, never able to stick with the club long enough to make a trip back home. But he finally got here yesterday as part of Kansas City's pitching staff after a March 30 trade put him in the rotation.

"It's funny, because it was almost like a jinx," he said. "I've been to almost every ballpark, but I'd get called up the day after they got back from Baltimore or I would get sent down to Triple-A four days before they came to Baltimore. I've been up and down about 11 times and never came here, so this is a pretty big thrill."

Witasick, 26, who pitched for UMBC, won't start in this series, but has been told he might throw an inning to stay sharp. If that happens, he'll have plenty of witnesses.

"I've got a pretty good pass list working. I've been mooching tickets from guys in the clubhouse the last couple of days," he said.

Mathews returns

The late acquisition of Witasick forced the Royals to send down pitcher Terry Mathews, despite his 1.64 ERA in 11 spring innings. Mathews could have refused the Triple-A assignment. Instead, he allowed just one earned run in 10 1/3 innings with Omaha, had his contract purchased last week and returned to Camden Yards for the first time since being designated for assignment by the Orioles on June 30.

"There's a little extra excitement any time you go back somewhere you played before," he said. "You want to go back and do good, just for personal reasons, to be able to say, `Hey, I am good.' But as far as coming back with some kind of vendetta, there's nothing like that."

Mathews had appeared in one game with the Royals before last night, picking up the win with two scoreless innings. He may always be remembered by Orioles fans for the back-to-back homers he allowed in the ninth inning of Game 3 of the 1997 Division Series against Seattle and the chorus of boos that accompanied his entrance and departure.

Asked what kind of reception he expects in a Royals uniform, Mathews smiled and said: "It should be wonderful. They booed me when I came in for them. They should cheer me when I come in for the opponent. Isn't that the way it should work?"

Pickering gets closer

Calvin Pickering, who could be joining the Orioles later this week, returned to Triple-A Rochester's lineup yesterday and went 1-for-4 with his first RBI.

Pickering had appeared in only five games because of inflammation in his right rotator cuff. He's 6-for-21 with one extra-base hit.

If not for the injury, Pickering would have been recalled when Will Clark went on the disabled list April 20.

"By the end of this week, I'll be ready to go," he said. "I want to be 100 percent when I go up there. Right now, I'm about 99."

Pub Date: 4/28/99

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