Webster goes on DL for ankle, for Surhoff

Sidelight

Recall of Davis preferred, though injury isn't severe

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

ARLINGTON, Texas -- Charles Johnson doesn't have to check Ray Miller's lineup card these days. Once again he found himself the Orioles' starting catcher last night while a roster shuffle placed Lenny Webster on the disabled list and promoted Tommy Davis from Triple-A Rochester.

The move had been anticipated since Webster strained a tendon in his right ankle Wednesday night against the Cleveland Indians. Trying to avoid a head-high Dwight Gooden fastball, Webster bent backward, causing his ankle to buckle. Club officials said yesterday that Webster will be recovered within a week, well before he is eligible to leave the disabled list but that they can't risk an arrangement with left fielder B. J. Surhoff as their backup.

"I wouldn't want to take a chance with getting [Surhoff] bruised back there," Miller said. "I don't think he would have been Webster crazy about it, either."

Said Webster: "It's not a two- or three-day thing. It's going to take a little longer than that."

Davis, who was concurrently added to the 40-man roster, was told of his promotion after Rochester's game in Richmond, Va. He arrives barely one year after being converted from third base to catcher and less than 11 months after undergoing season-ending surgery to repair a torn right labrum. The Orioles switched Davis, 25, after then-director of player development Syd Thrift noticed him warming pitchers in the bullpen during the 1997 Arizona Fall League.

Rather than sulk over the move, Davis embraced it as a quicker way to reach the major leagues. In 1997 he hit .304 in 119 games at Rochester. He spent last season at Double-A Bowie, batting .280 in 37 games before submitting to shoulder surgery.

"I'm game for anything," Davis said. "Anything to get to the big leagues. I kind of slipped through a little quicker than I thought."

Miller, general manager Frank Wren and assistant GM Bruce Manno spoke via conference call yesterday, debating over whether Davis or Bowie catcher Tim DeCinces should be promoted. Davis' resume as an offensive player along with his willingness to switch positions carried more than a little weight in their discussions. Davis was hitting .234 with three home runs and 14 RBIs at the time of his promotion. DeCinces was hitting .273 with three homers and 13 RBIs at Double-A.

"I think if a guy's at Triple-A doing what he's been asked to do, then he deserves the chance," Miller said.

Miller was less direct about when Davis will make his major-league debut. Trapped by an 0-for-10 slump, Johnson started last night and will likely catch the last two games of this series before Monday's day off. Johnson has now caught 11 consecutive games, including the May 3 exhibition against Cuba. He had gone 14-for-34 during the first seven games of the marathon stretch but concedes his unprecedented number of consecutive starts has taken its toll.

"You're used to catching two days, taking a day off, catching a day or two, and then getting another day off," said Johnson. "This is new territory for me."

Webster has been injured the last two times Johnson was not in the starting lineup. On May 6 he suffered a bruised hand when he struck Chicago White Sox second baseman Ray Durham's bat on a throw. Wednesday was his first time in the lineup since.

"This hasn't been a good week," said Webster, on the DL for the first time in nine full major-league seasons. "But instead of dwelling on it, I'm going to look at it as a positive. I hadn't really been comfortable at the plate and maybe this will give me a chance to look at things and put it back together."

Pub Date: 5/15/99

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