C. Johnson walks gingerly day after

ORIOLES NOTEBOOK

Groin injury won't force him to DL, catcher says

May 28, 2000|By Roch Kubatko | Roch Kubatko,SUN STAFF

Orioles catcher Charles Johnson remains day-to-day after being hit in the groin by a foul tip during Friday's game against the Oakland A's. Though bothered by soreness and swelling, Johnson said he won't go on the disabled list.

Struck in the sixth inning, Johnson had to be helped from the field after being down for several minutes. Johnson said he had difficulty breathing and couldn't sit up until being assisted by trainer Richie Bancells. He was taken to University of Maryland Medical Center for a precautionary examination.

Every step taken by Johnson yesterday was deliberate.

"I'm still sore but it's a little better than yesterday," he said, after mocking disgust at not seeing his name on the lineup card. "I'll just keep icing it and it should feel better. I'll see how I am tomorrow and if I think I can go, I'll try to go."

Johnson said the ball hit him directly in the protective cup after nicking the bat of Oakland left fielder Ben Grieve. "Sometimes it just finds the right spot. And as you move, sometimes the cup will shift a little. ... That's what happened [Friday]," Johnson said.

"It caught him dead straight-on," said first baseman Will Clark. "... I think it's pretty much a miracle he made it off under his own power."

Players understand Johnson's value to the club. He caught 135 games last season, the most in his career, and had started 10 of the last 11 before the injury. He also had thrown out the last two runners attempting to steal off him, and belted hisseventh home run on Friday.

"He's the cornerstone of our defense right now," said Jeff Conine. "That would be a very difficult loss. Hopefully he'll be able to get back soon."

If the Orioles need another catcher while Johnson is out, manager Mike Hargrove said B.J. Surhoff probably would be the first option behind Greg Myers. Otherwise, utility infielder Mark Lewis would debut at the position.

Bordick bounces back

On a night when players were dropping like flies, shortstop Mike Bordick got the injury ball rolling on Friday. He completed the game, unlike the others, and had his name in the lineup last night.

Bordick was struck just above the left ear flap by a throw from shortstop Miguel Tejada while beating out an infield hit in the first inning. That alone would have been an issue. His misery was compounded, however, when he also ran face-first into the glove of A's first baseman Jeremy Giambi, who had been drawn into the basepath.

Bordick stayed on the ground for a few minutes while being attended to by Bancells, who had done more sprinting from the Orioles' dugout the past two nights than third base coach Sam Perlozzo. Bordick eventually rose and took his place at first base. He flexed the jaw, which had sent Giambi's glove flying, and could smile over the incident.

"I had a little headache last night," Bordick said. "It was weird. I was kind of stunned a little bit at first, but I felt all right the whole time during the game."

"Bordy got the ol' 1-2," Clark said. "He got smoked on both sides. He got a scare but he came out of it all right."

Giambi didn't. He had to leave with a sprained right thumb and wasn't in the lineup last night.

Utility man indeed

Superstitions run pretty deep in baseball, and with the Orioles in the midst of a four-game winning streak last night, Conine was obligated to carry out the lineup card.

Conine had met with the umpires before Tuesday's game against Seattle, the beginning of a six-game homestand that followed a 1-4 trip through Anaheim and Texas. The Orioles defeated the Mariners that night, and the dye had been cast.

"You look for anything that might work," he said. "I happened to take it up and we won, so I'm taking it up until we lose."

Asked about the chatter that takes place with the umpires at home plate, Conine broke out his trademark sense of humor. It often runs on the dry side, even on a rainy night. "They asked me about ground rules," he said, "and I basically told them anything outside the lines is out of play and anything inside the lines is in play. It's pretty simple to me."

Chip off Hargrove block

Before his team could play the A's last night, Hargrove played the role of proud father by relaying news that his son, Andy, had thrown a no-hitter yesterday for St. Ignatius in the Ohio state Division I high school regional final.

Andy, a left-hander, has accepted a scholarship to Yavapi Junior College in Arizona. He's not projected as a pitcher, but sure looked the part yesterday in an 8-0 victory over No. 1 Euclid. He also tossed a no-hitter last season, barely missing a perfect game when he walked a batter in the final inning.

"He's got a fastball, curveball and changeup. He throws the ball about 84, 85 mph," said Hargrove, a .290-hitting first baseman during his 12-year big-league career. "He also can hit a baseball about as far as you'd ever want to see it hit."

Shutout, but not perfect

Though left-hander B.J. Ryan threw two shutout innings on Friday to break a streak of being scored upon in five straight outings, Hargrove said the rookie needs to improve his command.

Ryan walkedtwo, increasing his season's total to 20 in 18 2/3 innings.

"It was a good, positive outing for him, but there are still some things he needs to work on to gain a little more consistency," Hargrove said despite the rookie's four strikeouts. "It's his arm slot as much as anything. He has a tendency to drift and it causes his velocity to drop. But he threw the pitches when he needed to [Friday] night."

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