Tarasco's injury spurs Gillick's curiosity O's GM to ask if Expos knew of its severity


ARLINGTON, Texas -- Orioles general manager Pat Gillick said yesterday he intends to call the Montreal Expos and ask club officials there if they were aware of the severity of Tony Tarasco's shoulder injury when they traded him to the Orioles in March.

Tarasco, a 25-year-old outfielder acquired for Sherman Obando, had arthroscopic shoulder surgery Monday and is out for the year. Before the deal, Gillick said, the Orioles asked about soreness in Tarasco's shoulder and were told he was suffering from typical spring training tendinitis. "That's what their doctors diagnosed it as," said Gillick.

But Dr. Frank Jobe found fraying in Tarasco's shoulder capsule Monday, a more serious problem.

Gillick said he really doesn't have any expectation of a redress of the trade with Montreal; he just wants to ask. "There's not much else you can do."

Tarasco started the season with the Orioles, was demoted to Triple-A Rochester in May and was disabled earlier this month. He played the outfield for the Orioles, although he never showed the powerful arm that scouts say he displayed in 1995.

Lineup flip-flop

After one day with Roberto Alomar back in the No. 2 spot in the order, Orioles manager Davey Johnson moved Alomar back to No. 3 last night, with Luis Polonia batting second.

"I just got a feeling that the way things were going [Tuesday night], Robbie would rather have been in the No. 3 hole," Johnson said. "I'm just toying with things, moving some things around."

Johnson also started Polonia in left field, rather than at designated hitter, in an effort to shake him out of his 0-for-18 slump.

"Maybe he's got Bonilla disease, I don't know," said Johnson, referring to Bobby Bonilla's dislike for being the designated hitter.

Polonia went 1-for-2, was hit by a pitch and scored a run, but also grounded into a double play.

Johnson said he has given no thought to dropping Brady Anderson, who leads the majors in homers with 26, to a lower spot in the lineup to take advantage of his power.

"Who would I lead off?" Johnson said. "I've got six guys who are fairly productive, and the other three [aren't]. You can hit those six guys any way you want, and they're going to be pretty good."

Johnson was referring to Anderson, Alomar, Bonilla, Rafael Palmeiro, B. J. Surhoff and Cal Ripken as the six productive players.

Trade talk

Gillick said he won't rule out the possibility that the Orioles could make a trade by the All-Star break, maybe for an outfielder or a pitcher.

Perhaps the only way he would deal a young player, Gillick said, is by dealing for another young player.

"But," he said, "we don't have a lot of young players to move."

Gillick said the only circumstance in which he could see the Orioles dealing for a high-salaried veteran is if another team was just trying to dump the player to save money, and wouldn't ask for a prospect in return.

Meanwhile, according to a National League source, the Orioles asked the Atlanta Braves about acquiring 25-year-old Tyler Houston before the left-handed hitting catcher/first baseman was dealt to the Chicago Cubs last night for 19-year-old pitching prospect Ismael Villegas.

The Orioles also have asked about the Philadelphia Phillies' Mike Lieberthal and Seattle Mariners' Chris Widger, with no luck.

The Orioles do have a young player they can deal, if they choose, in Jeffrey Hammonds. At least two teams, the Cincinnati Reds and Kansas City Royals, have expressed interest in him.

Young Yankees

Johnson on the New York Yankees, who will be host to the Orioles today in the first game of a four-game series:

"To me, what has made the Yankees successful is the depth in their pitching, and, secondly, the play of some of their rookies and young players -- Derek Jeter, Gerald Williams, Andy Fox, they've all played a role. When they've needed a little shot here and there, they've gotten it."

Around the horn

Oklahoma's Ryan Minor, picked by the Orioles on the 33rd round of the amateur draft earlier this month as a first baseman, was chosen last night in the NBA draft by the Philadelphia 76ers with the third pick in the second round, not as high as some had predicted. That may improve the Orioles' chances of signing him. . . . Gregg Zaun has been playing more regularly, but Chris Hoiles is still the Orioles' No. 1 catcher. "Everybody knows Hoiles is capable of hitting 25 homers and driving in 80 runs," said Johnson. "That's what he's being paid to do. He's just not doing it right now." . . . The Orioles will be briefed on labor negotiations by the Players Association in a meeting with union leaders today in New York. . . . Hammonds has two hits in his first 22 at-bats for Triple-A Rochester. . . . Surhoff has grounded into one double play in 234 at-bats. However, he is slumping, with 10 hits in 61 at-bats (.164) over the past 16 games. "He's pressing a little bit," said Johnson. "He gets down on himself." . . . Anderson went into last night's game ranked first in the American League in slugging percentage (.686).

Hits and misses

On the field: Orioles shortstop Cal Ripken saved rookie right-hander Rocky Coppinger from some damage in the second inning last night, ranging to his left on a grounder up the middle by Rusty Greer, stabbing at and gloving the ball, then spinning and throwing to first just in time. The play proved to be important when the Rangers went on to score a run on three hits with two outs.

In the dugout: Blue Jays manager Cito Gaston, speaking to reporters in Toronto yesterday, said he hoped that fans there won't boo Roberto Alomar when he returns next week. "If Robbie gets any boos here, he'll really rise to the occasion," Gaston said. "I hope they'll give him a hand." A couple of years ago in Baltimore, Gaston said, Alomar was booed and didn't like it. "Boom! He hit a home run. Some guys can't answer that way. Robbie can."

In the clubhouse: Orioles general manager Pat Gillick, on his team: "We probably need to put together a 12-3 streak. . . . We need to put together a streak of some kind."

Pub Date: 6/27/96

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