Injury just part of Johnson's bargain


Player representative for O's staying busy as he readies for return Friday

August 07, 2002|By Roch Kubatko and Joe Christensen | Roch Kubatko and Joe Christensen,SUN STAFF

As Orioles pitcher Jason Johnson continues to move forward in his return from shoulder tendinitis, he also is pulled in other directions that take his mind off the field.

Johnson confirmed again that he would make Friday's start in Detroit after being activated from the disabled list. He spent part of yesterday engaged in a conference call with the union hierarchy and baseball's other player representatives, with updates provided on labor negotiations and the issue of steroid testing.

"I think the majority of the guys, they want something done as far as steroid testing is concerned," he said. "But we aren't ready to put a proposal out there until we get a majority vote on what we think should be done."

No strike date has been set, but Johnson will fly to Chicago on Monday for an executive board meeting. The Orioles have an open date on their schedule, and only five games are being played in the majors.

"We'll find out what the owners think of what the players union thinks as a group," he said. "As far as the meeting today, everybody was totally ready [to strike] if we need to. Every team was represented in the meeting and not a single team said no."

Johnson said there's been "a little bit of progress" on the smaller issues, but he wasn't as optimistic about more controversial points like revenue sharing.

"We're still waiting on a few things," he said.

Johnson, who replaced Sidney Ponson as the Orioles' player representative this season, said the team is unanimous in its support of setting a strike date, "but everybody's pretty upbeat right now."

"It's getting better," he said. "The owners and the players union are talking a little more. But the key issues that will determine whether we have to set a strike date or not are still being talked about."

Conine may play -- here

Jeff Conine said he expects to be playing somewhere today, and it might be with the Orioles.

Manager Mike Hargrove left open the possibility that Conine could skip a minor-league rehab assignment and remain with the club. Conine hasn't appeared in a game since straining his right hamstring on June 14.

"He could either be sent on a rehab tomorrow, or maybe we activate him just to keep him here," Hargrove said. "He's swinging the bat very well. We'll know more after today's workout."

Gibbons out again

Jay Gibbons missed his third straight game because of soreness in his right wrist, which required a second cortisone shot yesterday. He hopes to be in the lineup tonight.

An examination in Baltimore didn't reveal any damage to the wrist. Gibbons continues to be bothered by a suture that's pressing on a nerve.

"I went in for another evaluation and they said the same thing," Gibbons said. "We tested it for about 45 minutes, and they said they couldn't find anything wrong other than that stitch in there."

Gibbons is counting on the shot's effects lasting longer than the first one, which wore off in about 10 days. He had also been administered a few numbing shots to alleviate the discomfort.

"Hopefully this will give me a little more relief this time," he said. "I've already had a couple days off and I'm taking the day off today."

Gibbons expects to have another magnetic resonance imaging test after the season, when he'll have surgery to remove the suture.

The wrist began to bother Gibbons again while the Orioles were in Boston. "Then in Tampa Bay it just went terrible," he said, "and in Toronto I couldn't even swing."

Around the horn

Pat Hentgen's second rehab start will come Saturday at Single-A Delmarva. Hentgen, attempting to return this season from ligament-transplant surgery in his right elbow, tossed three scoreless innings Monday in the Gulf Coast League. ... Hargrove confirmed that Travis Driskill will take his scheduled turn tomorrow. The Orioles had listed the spot as "undecided." ... Hargrove said John Stephens, who made his second major-league start on Sunday, is the "logical" person to be sent down when Johnson is activated. But he didn't commit to the move. "We've got a couple days before we'll make a decision on that," he said. ... David Ortiz extended his hitting streak to 19 games.

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