Tony Tarasco went from being an insurance policy to the Orioles' starting left fielder, as manager Davey Johnson continued to move around his players like broken chess pieces.

Tarasco was summoned from Triple-A Rochester on Wednesday when Johnson began running out of healthy outfielders. He was activated less than two hours before last night's game, and Jerome Walton was removed from the starting lineup and placed on the 15-day disabled list with a strained left hamstring.

Walton, who joined the Orioles as a free agent in December, was bothered by a pulled abdominal muscle in spring training and a sore hamstring, which flared up during Tuesday's game. Walton didn't play the next night, but had to take over in left field in the ninth inning Thursday as the last remaining outfielder when Brady Anderson became the latest casualty.

Anderson, playing his fourth game in center field, aggravated his cracked rib when he crashed into the wall in the fifth inning running down a shot by Boston's Nomar Garciaparra. He batted twice more, then left because he was having trouble throwing the ball.

"He's real sore and the trainer said he couldn't go today. He can't breathe," said Johnson before inserting Jeffrey Hammonds in center and batting Roberto Alomar in Anderson's leadoff spot.

After the game, Johnson said, "Brady told me if he can breathe he'll be my DH [today]."

In his only at-bat Thursday, Walton felt the hamstring knot up while running out a ground ball to lead off the 11th inning.

Walton, who was hitting .440 (11-for-25), didn't argue the decision. "We've got a lot of guys who are injured, so I'd rather go ahead and just take my 15 days and get healthy and come on back," he said.

"It's not doing me any good to go out there the way I am. I can't run down a fly ball, I can't steal any bases. I'm just getting tired of it because my legs are the main part of my game.

Tarasco, who went 0-for-3 but made a leaping catch to prevent a home run in the seventh, said he didn't want to talk to reporters until after the game out of superstition. "Just say Robocop has been activated," said Tarasco, smiling as he exited the clubhouse. Afterward, he was still smiling, but was still saying little, too.

Anderson spent much of the day in the trainer's room, emerging with a bandage around his ribs. "Like the rest of the world, I'm day-to-day," he said.

He also wasn't about to go on the DL without a fight. "He was in the room when I talked to Walton and he said, 'Don't even come down this way,' " Johnson said.

B. J. Surhoff, who has been out since straining his left groin Tuesday, is showing the same resistance. Asked if there was any question whether he'd go on the DL, he said, "No question whatsoever."

"He's day-to-day, too. I don't know," Johnson said. "He was a lot better than what everybody anticipated, and I'm going by what the trainer's saying and what B. J's saying. That's all I can go by."

Without Anderson and Surhoff, the Orioles were down to 11 available position players.

Pub Date: 4/26/97

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