Johnson remains interested in Orioles


CINCINNATI -- Reds manager Davey Johnson, passed over last year by the Orioles, said again yesterday that he would like to manage in Baltimore -- and in doing so, he took a little shot at the Orioles.

The job of managing the Orioles "intrigued" him, Johnson said. "Unfortunately, it didn't work out. I didn't finish in first."

Johnson was a runner-up to Phil Regan, who managed the Orioles through a disappointing season, and whose status is now up in the air. "But, hey," Johnson continued, "I'm in the playoffs, and the Orioles are watching on television."

Even if the Reds go on to win the World Series, Johnson is expected to be fired as manager after this season. Owner Marge Schott has never hid her distaste for Johnson.

Assuming Johnson is dumped, St. Louis and the Orioles likely will at least inquire about his services. "They wouldn't have to ask for permission," Johnson said cryptically.

Rejoining the Orioles, Johnson said, "would be like going home again. . . . [Last year], it was the only club that I had any interest in. I'd love to go back there. In '66, '69, '70, '71, I was in the World Series. I learned to play there. Those were wonderful teams. To go back and win as manager, that would be very good."

What about the pressure of managing in a baseball-crazy city like Baltimore? "I worked 10 years for the Mets," he said, "six years in the majors. I learned to handle a lot of things in New York."

Draining experiences

Atlanta right fielder David Justice had fluid drained from a knee yesterday, and was thought to be doubtful. But after taking batting practice early in the afternoon, running a little during pre-game workouts, he decided to play.

"There won't be any excuses [if he doesn't hit]," Justice said before going 1-for-4. "There won't be any excuses defensively, either. If I go out there, I play."

Braves shortstop Jeff Blauser, who sat out Saturday's playoff against Colorado because of a sore ankle, also had fluid drained and was in the lineup.

Don't blame it on Rijo

Jose Rijo, out for the year because of elbow trouble, has been Cincinnati's top pitcher in recent seasons, a team leader. So he was shocked when he found out that the Reds would not pay for his hotel room in Los Angeles during the divisional series, the club's rationale being that Rijo wasn't an active member of the team.

Rijo, furious, refused to attend the games in L.A.

In an attempt to smooth things over, Davey Johnson and Reds general manager Jim Bowden asked Rijo to dress in uniform and sit on the bench for the NL Championship Series and the World Series, should Cincinnati advance that far. The team also would pick up the cost of Rijo's travel and accommodations.

But Rijo is so angry that as of yesterday, he refused to say whether he'd accept the offer from Johnson and Bowden. The Reds expected him to attend last night's game -- but with a ticket for the stands.

Rijo's disgust reportedly stemmed from the fact that Schott purchased two $1,200 tickets to Los Angeles -- one for herself, the other for a giant, stuffed St. Bernard toy.

Around the horn

Former Padres owner Joan Kroc sent flowers to Schott yesterday. In the '80s, Kroc and Schott were regarded as the first ladies of baseball. . . . Braves manager Bobby Cox says the divisional series should be best-of-seven, rather than best-of-five. You play the whole season to play five games in the first round?" he asked rhetorically. "It's not like football."

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