Johson sent to bullpen after 3-hour club...

THE BALTIMORE SUN

Johson sent to bullpen after 3-hour club meeting

After a three-hour state-of-the-club meeting involving field and front-office management yesterday, the Baltimore Orioles made one move -- Dave Johnson from the starting rotation to the bullpen.

"We're going to try to get our starting rotation straightened out," said manager Frank Robinson. "We'll go with four for the next two or three starts."

The team has four scheduled days off in the next three weeks, including tonight's exhibition game in Rochester, N.Y., making five starters excessive.

"The way the bullpen has been used [heavily], we can use that extra arm out there," Robinson said. "We have a tendency to forget that those guys can't do the job without the proper rest as well."

Johnson seemed to take the shift well enough but said: "I don't necessarily like it. I like starting, and I think I'm more suited to it. The way it was explained to me, I was in a position to give them some innings tonight. It was my day to throw on the side. I was in the wrong place at the wrong time."

The change will be in force for the next two to three times through the rotation, meaning Johnson probably won't be moved back until late this month.

"Hopefully, it won't be that long," Johnson said. "This is no reflection in the way things have gone in my starts. I'm just the one who came up at the time of the decision."

Johnson has pitched only once in relief since he joined the Orioles, allowing two hits to two Seattle batters last season.

"Usually, it doesn't take me long to get loose," he said. "The only adjustment is as a long reliever, getting up and down. I need to know when to be almost ready."

Johnson said he didn't take it personally. "The last three [starts] I haven't gotten out of the fifth inning, but the whole staff has been inconsistent," he said. "I wasn't expecting this, but I wasn't surprised."

In his last three starts, he has worked 12 innings and permitted 25 hits, including three home runs, and 21 runs.

Medical update

Glenn Davis will accompany the Orioles on their West Coast trip, seeking a final medical opinion on the spinal nerve injury that has left the first baseman in limbo.

"Glenn is anxious to see Dr. Robert Watkins in the Kerlan-Jobe Clinic in Los Angeles," said Dr. Charles Silberstein, the Orioles' orthopedic specialist. "Dr. Watkins specializes in spinal injuries. For the sake of completeness, Glenn wants to see what he thinks. That should be his final consultation."

Davis, who was placed on the 15-day disabled list Friday, will be examined first by a Cleveland specialist before flying to California.

He has been seeking as many opinions as possible after Dr. James Campbell, a Johns Hopkins neurosurgeon, recommended surgery to repair the nerve damage that has reduced the strength in Davis' right shoulder.

Monday, Davis consulted with three neurosurgeons at Cornell University Hospital for Special Surgery in New York. They agreed with Campbell but did not recommend surgery for the time being.

Swinging Horn

Sam Horn will heed Robinson's advice to be more aggressive at the plate after looking tentative in recent games.

"I had been striking out, and I started being more selective," Horn said. "I was taking a lot of pitches, and Frank knows that's not me. He told me not to worry about striking out, and just go back to swinging my old way."

Horn struck out 19 times in his first 36 at bats but only twice in his last 13 plate appearances. He had a stretch of four consecutive walks, but Robinson wants him to be a free swinger.

Tiger tales

Ben McDonald, who played a season and a half of basketball PTC for Louisiana State, said he has it on good authority that All-America center Shaquille O'Neal will spurn the National Basketball Association lottery to remain in college.

"I know he's giving up a lot of money, but everyone down home says he's staying," McDonald said. "If he does, the Tigers will be loaded next season."

Miscellaneous

About 22,000 tickets have been sold for the May 15 game against Oakland, which will be attended by Queen Elizabeth II. . . . The longest streak in the Oriole family belongs not to Cal Ripken Jr. but to Ernie Tyler. The team's field attendant has been at 2,498 games on his stool behind the plate. The streak began April 19, 1960....P Matt Andeerson, who struck out 29 in 19 innings, was named the organization's Player of the Month for April. He was 3-0 with a 1.42 ERA for the Kane County Cougars of the Midwest League.

Iron Mike

Robinson had special praise for Mike Flanagan, who came on in relief in the eighth inning last night. He got Pete O'Brien to ground out and then froze Alvin Davis with a sweeping curveball for strike three before giving way to Mark Williamson.

"Mike shouldn't have even been in the bullpen tonight," Robinson said. "But the second time he got up, he told me he thought he could get out a couple of hitters. With two lefties coming up, in O'Brien and Davis, it was a perfect situation.

"He has made a tremendous adjustment becoming a reliever. N one knew if his arm could stand getting up and down in the bullpen, but he's answered with an emphatic 'yes.' But we've got to be careful not to overload him early in the season."

No trade talk

After the organizational meeting, called to discuss what could be done about improving the team with the worst record in the majors, general manager Roland Hemond said: "We're just trying to find solutions to get better. We had a very good dialogue."

Hemond and Robinson said the possibility of trades was not raised.

"Everything was serious, but the only thing we really didn't get into was trades," said Robinson. "The meeting was nothing unusual. We had them last year. It's just a chance to throw things back and forth, to hold open talks."

Team president Larry Lucchino, Hemond, Robinson and hi coaches attended.

Another Rochester junket

Minor-leaguers will do the pitching in the Orioles' 26th exhibition against their Class AAA team, and the Oriole regulars will only play a few innings.

Erik Schullstrom, the No. 2 pick from last June's draft, will start for Rochester in his first action after pitching in extended spring training. Jeff Bumgarner, 0-1 at Class AA Hagerstown, will start for the Orioles, followed by David Riddle (0-1 at Frederick), Joel McKeon (2-0 at Hagerstown) and Jeff Williams (0-1 at Frederick).

Rochester leads the series, 12-11-1.

The no-BP arrangement

Robinson canceled batting practice last night, despite the team's woes at the plate.

"It's very unusual," he said. "Normally, the Orioles hit every day. .. But we've got a tough day tomorrow, and I just thought we wouldn't have any."

No trade talk

After the organizational meeting, called to discuss what could be done about improving the team with the worst record in the majors, general manager Roland Hemond said, "We're just trying to find solutions to get better. We had a very good dialogue."

Hemond and manager Frank Robinson both said the possibility of trades was not brought up.

"Everything was serious, but the only thing we really didn't get into was trades," said Robinson. "The meeting was nothing unusual. We had them last year. It's just a chance to throw things back and forth, to hold open talks."

Team president Larry Lucchino, Hemond, Robinson and his coaches attended.

Stacking the deck

The Orioles, with Coca Cola and Crown Petroleum as sponsors, will give away three sets of baseball cards of former Orioles. Fans paying full admission will get 120 cards at each of three games -- May 17 against California, June 28 against Boston and Aug. 11 against Chicago. They can complete the set by paying $4 -- or $1.99 with the purchase of eight gallons of gasoline -- at participating Crown stations beginning Aug. 12.

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