Mound shake-up claims Linton

ORIOLES NOTEBOOK

Kamieniecki fate unclear

Johns back from Rochester

May 15, 1999|By Joe Strauss | Joe Strauss,SUN STAFF

ARLINGTON, Texas -- The Orioles began a potentially sweeping shake-up of their much-scrutinized pitching staff following last night's 7-6 loss by optioning reliever Doug Linton to Triple-A Rochester to make room for left-hander Doug Johns.

The move came a day after manager Ray Miller had heavily criticized Thursday starter Scott Kamieniecki and obliquely chastened Linton for an "embarrassing" 15-7 loss to the Texas Rangers. Kamieniecki's crimes were more obvious -- he allowed seven earned runs in 3 1/3 innings -- while Linton felt Miller's ire after allowing his fifth home run in 23 1/3 innings. Linton had also walked 15, putting him on the manager's hit list as his patience for poor control is exhausted.

Johns was optioned to Rochester on April 11 and is awaiting trial for DWI and marijuana possessions charges stemming from an April 5 traffic stop.

Since his demotion, Johns has gone 1-1 with a 4.85 ERA in eight appearances, six of them starts. Thursday night he pitched a seven-inning complete game against the Richmond Braves, allowing one run on three hits. He has walked six in 29 2/3 innings at Rochester.

Since winning five straight, the Orioles have lost six of seven. They have surrendered 52 runs in that span, which included a 5-0 complete game shutout by Scott Erickson. Their five-game losing streak came despite scoring 28 runs. The first loss of the road trip came despite hitting four home runs against the Detroit Tigers.

"You look at this week and last week and tell me the difference," Miller said. "It's pitching."

Kamieniecki's status remains unclear. He has made two starts, both losses, and survived only five innings combined. Miller stopped short of declaring him out of the rotation but organizational sources indicate that the club is leaning heavily toward promoting Jason Johnson from Rochester when Kamieniecki's next turn arrives May 22.

Kamieniecki has admitted frustration over his slow return from a strained hamstring suffered March 19 in Fort Lauderdale; however, he also says he rushed his return to help a team in desperate need for pitching help.

Miller has since been critical of the veteran's mound presence and his reluctance to throw strikes. "He's got to produce," Miller said. "He had four rehab starts. It's not that he's not trying, but he's getting hit hard. You've got to go on what the bats are telling you."

Bordick returns to No. 2

After juggling his lineup Thursday night, Miller moved shortstop Mike Bordick to the No.2 spot and dropped second baseman Delino DeShields to No. 8. Leery of the Rangers' balanced bullpen, Miller was reluctant to bunch left-handed hitters at the top of the lineup.

"With a right-hander pitching you can bunch [left-handed bats] at the top of the lineup and go for it all at once. The problem with that is it gives him a free ride once he gets beyond that," Miller said.

DeShields, whose back stiffness has abated in recent days, had been batting behind leadoff hitter Brady Anderson until this series.

DeShields has recently emerged from a 2-for-27 funk, and his 3-for-4 last night makes him 7-for-15 in his last five games. Bordick has also recently shown signs of offensive life after enduring a 7-for-60 slide over 18 games. He was 2-for-4 last night and is 9-for-27 (.333) in his last seven games.

Caught in the draft

When Tommy Davis' contract was purchased from Triple-A Rochester yesterday, he became the Orioles' seventh consecutive first draft pick to reach the majors.

Davis was actually a second-round selection, but the Orioles' first choice in the 1994 draft. Preceding him were Gregg Olson ('88), Ben McDonald ('89), Mike Mussina ('90), Mark Smith ('91), Jeffrey Hammonds ('92), and Jay Powell ('93).

Powell reached the majors with the Florida Marlins. Only Mussina remains with the organization.

Around the horn

Cal Ripken went 2-for-5 to lift his average above .200 at .216. Right fielder Albert Belle played host to about 400 students from Caddo Parish, La., middle schools last night. Students from eight Shreveport-area schools received the perk after completing a reading challenge program endorsed by Belle, a Shreveport native. Reliever Mike Fetters also is promoting a charity. He has pledged $200 per appearance to the Make-A-Wish Foundation and Johns Hopkins Children's Center. The Orioles' second-inning run last night was a novelty. They have been outscored 43-7 in the inning -- an average of more than a run per game -- and had scored multiple runs in the inning only once. Entering last night the Orioles had outscored opponents 165-154 in all other innings except the second, including a 63-58 advantage after the sixth.

Pub Date: 5/15/99

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