DH Belle sharper


Johnson rest ends

Double sign of upswing?

Surhoff back to full shift

April 30, 2000|By Roch Kubatko | Roch Kubatko,SUN STAFF

For the second time in three days, Orioles manager Mike Hargrove penciled in Albert Belle as his designated hitter and started Jeff Conine in right field. The manager quickly intercepted a suggestion that the change might have something to do with Belle's physical condition.

"It's just a day off," Hargrove said. "You DH a guy as kind of a semi-day off."

Belle ended a 4-for-32 skid by leading off the second inning with a double down the left-field line. He also walked twice.

Catcher Charles Johnson returned to the lineup after being scratched during batting practice on Friday.

His abrupt removal led to speculation that he was bothered by an injury, but Johnson said he's feeling fine.

"They didn't give me a reason. They just said I wasn't playing," he said.

Hargrove said he decided to rest Johnson because he'd be using the four-time Gold Glove winner over the weekend, with the Rangers starting left-handers Darren Oliver and Kenny Rogers.

Hargrove called upon Greg Myers on Friday, and he went 0-for-2 with a walk against Texas right-hander Esteban Loaiza. Myers was at the plate in the ninth Friday when reliever Jeff Zimmerman was called for a balk that brought home the winning run.

Johnson went through a stretch last season in which he caught 28 straight games, including 27 starts, between May 5 and June 4. He played in a career-high 135 games.

This season, he's appeared in 19 of the Orioles' first 23 games.

"I don't know that you see the benefits of a day off this early in the season as much as you see it maybe in August," Hargrove said.

"Even DHing them can take the strain off a catcher's legs. Even early in the season you can wear a catcher down to where you see the bat start to drag. It's as much a mental day off as anything else."

Full-timer again

B.J. Surhoff resumed his usual routine of playing all nine innings, which he had done in every game this season until being ejected by home plate umpire Dan Iassogna in the first inning of Friday's 4-3 victory.

Surhoff was tossed for arguing a called third strike, the fourth ejection of his career. He was gone before Hargrove could get near him.

"I thought it was a little quick," Hargrove said. "I was on my way out of the dugout to keep that from happening. I was a little surprised it happened that quickly."

Players and managers alike are adapting to the influx of new umpires.

"I think umpires are pretty universal in what they'll take and what they'll put up with," Hargrove said. "Most of the time it takes a little longer than that [to be ejected] without cursing somebody.

"And I know that B.J. didn't curse him. That's why I was surprised it happened that early in the ballgame. Late in the game, when things have kind of built up and people have been yakking back and forth, sometimes they'll get a quick hook."

There was massive confusion in the press box regarding which umpire was working the plate. Members of the media were told that Ian Lamplugh was calling balls and strikes, but he actually was stationed at second base. It was Iassogna who tossed Surhoff and called the balk.

Garcia needs time

Hargrove said the main benefit of sending Jesus Garcia down to Triple-A Rochester is providing him with more playing time at shortstop, a position he was introduced to last season.

Garcia made the club as its utility infielder, but appeared in only six games and went 0-for-11. He became expendable when veteran Mark Lewis was signed off waivers from the Cincinnati Reds.

"I don't think he has anything to prove as far as having the ability to play in the big leagues. He just needs the experience," Hargrove said of Garcia.

"I think it's good for him and the Orioles that we were able to send him down to allow him to gain that experience. And he's certainly not getting enough at-bats in order to get his stroke to come around, so this will be good for him."

Day off for Palmeiro

Former Oriole Rafael Palmeiro wasn't in the Rangers' lineup yesterday after leaving in the fifth inning Friday with stiffness in his left hamstring. He's been advised by Rangers trainers not to play again until Tuesday, which would mean missing the last game of this series and getting extended rest because of Monday's day off.

But he pinch hit with two outs in the ninth, walking to load the bases and being removed for a pinch runner.

Palmeiro beat out an infield hit and stole second base on Friday, sliding hard into the bag, before being removed for Scott Sheldon. Inheriting the cleanup spot, Sheldon struck out to end the seventh inning, stranding two runners.

Another former Oriole, David Segui, started at first base yesterday and batted fourth. He broke up Mike Mussina's shutout with one out in the ninth inning when he singled in Chad Curtis.

For Mussina, it was strange lineup to face. He's used to seeing Tom Goodwin leading off, plus Mark McLemore, Juan Gonzalez, Rusty Greer, Lee Stevens and Todd Zeile. Only Greer remains, and he's on the disabled list.

"Their colors are even different," he said. "It's almost like a different team. It's not the Texas Rangers anymore. But they're good, young players."

Around the horn

Cal Ripken's double in the second inning moved him past Wade Boggs into 20th place on baseball's all-time hits list with 3,011. It also produced his 1,585th RBI, moving him past Harmon Killebrew and Rogers Hornsby into 26th place. ... Brady Anderson has hit safely in 13 of his last 16 games, going 19-for-62 (.307). ... Darren Oliver suffered his first career loss at Camden Yards. ... Will Clark drew his 18th walk, moving him into third place in the American League. Seattle's Alex Rodriguez leads the league with 22, and teammate John Olerud has 21. ... Pat Rapp, who attempts to go 4-0 today, ranks second in the American League in run support at 10.57 per nine innings. Chicago's Jim Parque is first at 11.30.

Baltimore Sun Articles
Please note the green-lined linked article text has been applied commercially without any involvement from our newsroom editors, reporters or any other editorial staff.