Johnson makes progress, is willing to pitch with pain


KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Right-hander Dave Johnson said yesterday that he has moved into the final phase of his recovery from a deep groin-muscle strain, but admits that he may have to pitch with some pain.

He'll throw two innings of simulated-game action in the bullpen today and pitch against live hitters a couple of times before a decision is made on when he'll return to the active roster.

"It seems to be coming along," Johnson said. "It's still sore between workouts, but I feel so good throwing that I'm very anxious to get out there."

He has been on the disabled list since May 20. He had hoped at the time that he would be out the minimum 15 days, but has suffered a series of setbacks.

Last week, he said that he had reached the point where he might decide to pitch through the pain, but team officials probably will have some say in that decision. The club is preparing to insert Ben McDonald back into the rotation and may be in no rush to make another move.

Johnson was 1-3 with a 9.23 ERA in eight appearances (four of them starts) before he joined the ranks of the disabled.

"I've been pretty antsy the past three weeks," Johnson said. "It wasn't so bad at first, because I thought I would be back in two weeks. Now we're looking at six."

The Ripken 500

Cal and Bill Ripken played in their 500th game together last night, far and away the most by a brother-middle infield combination in baseball history. No specific record is kept for this sort of thing, but the next-closest keystone combination were the O'Brien twins -- Eddie and Johnny -- who played about 100 games together for the Pittsburgh Pirates in 1953-55-56.

Fake turf tough on Oriole

The Orioles don't play particularly well on artificial turf. They are 3-7 on fake grass and have losing records on it in six of the past seven seasons.

Rough starts

Orioles pitchers have given up 55 runs in the first inning this year, more than any other inning. The club has given up 45 percent of the opposition's runs in the first three innings.


Cal Ripken made an unsuccessful attempt to bunt for a hit in the first inning. He leads the club with four bunt hits, but the Royals probably were happy to see him choose not to swing the bat with a runner at first and one out. . . . Tim Hulett is hitless in his past 15 at-bats. . . . Chris Hoiles is hitting just .130 (3-for-23) in June. . . . David Segui is batting .317 (19-for-60) in his past 20 games.

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