Johnson Seeks An End To Bullpen Struggles

ORIOLES NOTEBOOK

Notebook

July 05, 2009|By Jeff Zrebiec | Jeff Zrebiec,jeff.zrebiec@baltsun.com

ANAHEIM, Calif. - - Jim Johnson has been so solid since assuming a setup role in the Orioles' bullpen that when he struggles, it becomes a topic of conversation around the club.

That has been the case his past two outings. In Wednesday's gut-wrenching loss to the Boston Red Sox, Johnson walked and surrendered a home run to the only batters he faced, a major reason the Orioles coughed up a four-run ninth-inning lead. In the Orioles' 6-4 victory over the Los Angeles Angels on Friday, Johnson allowed a run on a hit, a walk and two wild pitches over 1 1/3 innings.

Before the two outings, Johnson had been scored on just once in his previous 14 outings. He hadn't given up runs in back-to-back outings the entire season.

"You can't expect him to go out there and get every single guy out," pitching coach Rick Kranitz said. "He is human. I'm not at all concerned about him."

Kranitz said Johnson has a minor mechanical flaw, in which his body is pulling too far to the left and preventing him from getting extension on his sinker. Johnson worked on it before Saturday's game and said he's not concerned at all.

"I just got in a funk," said Johnson, who has a 3.00 ERA in 34 appearances spanning 39 innings. "You're going to give up runs and base runners. There's nothing wrong with me. There are some things that I need to get back to doing that work for me. But that all gets figured out on the mound. It seems like over the last two outings, it's been hard for me to find that strike zone. I just got to find [my release point]. I know what I need to do. It's a slight mechanical adjustment. I'm going to work it out."

Angelos turns 80

Orioles owner Peter Angelos celebrated his 80th birthday Saturday on the other side of the country from where his team was facing the Angels. Angelos told The Baltimore Sun that he planned on celebrating the occasion and the nation's birthday at home with family and friends, rather than at his downtown law office, which is where he can be found on most days - and nights - during the week and weekends.

"He loves to work," Orioles president Andy MacPhail said. "There are people that work to live and there are people that live to work, and he's in the latter category. He enjoys his work. It's an intellectual challenge for him."

MacPhail also reflected on his two years working for Angelos, saying the owner has done "everything that he said he would."

"I think he puts a high degree of importance on character and integrity and that was one of the main reasons that I chose to work for him," MacPhail said. "I was moving my family and my home. I had other options available to me, but I trusted Peter. He owns the team, and we don't make any kind of significant decision with this franchise without his prior knowledge of and his approval of things like trading [Erik] Bedard or [Miguel] Tejada or spending $6 million on [Matt] Wieters.

"But in the few years I've been here, I can't imagine he's called me 15 times. Almost all of the times, I have to initiate the call. This idea that he meddles, I have a hard time understanding it. Owners have responsibility to weigh in on the final decision, but this idea of micromanaging the roster is complete fiction in the time I've been here."

Bowie next for Izturis

If he gets through batting practice without any incident today, Orioles shortstop Cesar Izturis will join Double-A Bowie and start his rehabilitation assignment Tuesday.

He's expected to play shortstop and bat leadoff for the Baysox on Tuesday and Thursday, and if all goes well, he would be activated by the Orioles for Friday's series opener against the Toronto Blue Jays. Izturis hasn't played since June 3 after undergoing an appendectomy.

Who will it be?

Orioles manager Dave Trembley spoke Saturday to Tampa Bay Rays manager Joe Maddon, who, as the manager of the American League All-Star team, will have a say in determining who represents the Orioles in the game July 14. The All-Star teams will be unveiled today.

"For me, it comes down to two guys - [George] Sherrill and [Adam] Jones," Trembley said. "I think Joe Maddon is in a position where he's not going to lose whoever he picks. I'd love to see both of them make it."

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