Daulton 'mauler' Johnson is seeking He sees available Phillie as being big bat off bench

THE BALTIMORE SUN

By listening to manager Davey Johnson yesterday, it's obvious the Orioles have more than just a passing interest in Philadelphia slugger Darren Daulton, whom the Phillies are looking to trade. Johnson spoke at length of the benefits of having the left-handed hitter in the lineup or on the bench, bad knees and all.

"If you look at the mashing clubs in this league, the power potential of Seattle, Cleveland, Boston, New York, those guys can maul you," he said. "They've usually got a mauler sitting on the bench and they can dictate matchups late. That's important in either league, to have some firepower. Even in the spring, that was one thing I thought we could use, one other big bopper who would be left-handed, not right-handed.

"I wanted [Tony] Tarasco to step up and swing the bat like he's capable of swinging it. He still may be the guy, but I know if Darren Daulton's walking out there, there will be some guys a little worried over there [in the other dugout], more so than Tarasco, which is the difference between a home run hitter and a line drive hitter."

Tarasco, who had one at-bat this month before last night, is believed to be involved in the trade talks.

Johnson was asked how tough it would be to carry someone like Daulton, 35, primarily an offensive player, when the outfield has been racked with injuries. "When we get him, you'll see how I handle it. You'll just have to watch," he said, smiling.

Phillies general manager Lee Thomas spoke with Orioles GM Pat Gillick on Monday, saying he's willing to pick up a sizable portion of Daulton's $5 million salary.

"He's a winner," said Angels third base coach Larry Bowa, who worked in the same capacity with the Phillies for eight seasons. "He knows how to play. He plays hard and gives you every ounce on every play. I know he can help an American League team as a DH."

Angels manager Terry Collins, who as Houston Astros manager saw Daulton play, gave a similar endorsement. "Darren Daulton is an outstanding offensive player, but what he brings to the clubhouse, the way he plays the game, those are the real intangibles. I don't care if he's got a bad knee, he's going to play hard, and if you don't play hard, he'll have something to say about it."

Mills looking up

Alan Mills was in more of an upbeat mood yesterday after talking to club physician Michael Jacobs Monday night and being assured there was no reason to be concerned about the results of the reliever's nerve conduction test.

Mills spoke Monday as if his season, and perhaps his career, were in jeopardy because he understood that it could be at least five or six months before his left shoulder would make a full recovery. He thought about the club's chances of getting back into the playoffs, and the miserable prospect of not being a part of it.

But Jacobs, who returned from Greece later that day, explained that because it was Mills' non-throwing arm that was affected, it didn't need to be 100 percent for him to pitch.

"See, I didn't know that," said Mills, who suffered a pinched nerve in his shoulder after colliding with catcher Lenny Webster before an April 11 game at Camden Yards.

Jacobs has said it will be a minimum of three weeks before the arm has recovered enough that Mills could pitch. "As long as my mechanics are fine, that's all I'm worried about," Mills said.

Jacobs also noted the importance of Mills being able to protect himself adequately.

"If you've pitched, balls are going to come back at you," Mills said. "You just do the best you can to defend yourself. I've been hit when my arm was fine. There's nothing you can do about it sometimes."

Mills said he began thinking about reliever Troy Percival Monday night. The Angels closer is on the disabled list with a damaged nerve in his right shoulder.

"It's weird. There's nothing you can do to make it better," Mills said, alluding to how the nerve must regenerate on its own. "That's the only thing that's bad."

At least Mills was in better spirits yesterday. "Eddie Murray was over there and Millsy was smiling and talking to him," Johnson said. "Things are back to normal. I was worried about him. [Monday], he didn't look too good."

Mathews looking down

Terry Mathews' season was moving along quite smoothly until Saturday, when he hit a bump that still has him flipping head over heels. He replaced Mike Mussina in the sixth inning of a 4-3 loss to Oakland and lasted just one-third of an inning, giving up a hit, walking a batter and allowing an inherited runner to score.

Brought in to start the eighth inning Monday with the Orioles trailing Anaheim, 4-2, Mathews gave up three runs (two earned) and two hits. He threw a potential double-play ball over shortstop Mike Bordick's head, and Tim Salmon tagged Mathews' next pitch for a three-run homer to center field that broke open the game. Mathews almost made a second error on a high throw to first that Rafael Palmeiro pulled down.

For the first time he was resoundly booed by the Camden Yards crowd.

"As far as [Monday] goes, I pitched well," said Mathews, whose )) ERA jumped from 2.19 to 3.38. "I hung the one slider to Salmon, and you hang a pitch to a guy like that and he can hit it hard. But I felt like I had a real good fastball. The only flaw I had was not being able to throw the ball to second base. I tried to remember. That might be my first big-league error in four years."

Mathews said he wasn't still dwelling on the mistake when he served up the homer to Salmon. "All I was thinking was get another ground ball and get the double play this time and get out of here. But it didn't happen that way."

Around the horn

Jeffrey Hammonds took live batting practice for the first time since leaving last Tuesday's game with a pulled abdominal muscle. He reported some soreness, which was expected, and hoped to take more swings today. Scott Erickson improved his )) lifetime record against the Angels to 13-2, his best against any team. Brady Anderson, who was hit by a pitch for the sixth time, has reached base safely in 25 of 27 games. The Orioles have three grand slams this season and two in the past three days.

Hits and misses

On the field: Brady Anderson scored from second base on Rafael Palmeiro's strikeout with two outs in the third inning. The ball got past catcher Jorge Fabregas, who made a low throw to first that allowed Palmeiro to reach. Anderson, barely slowing down as he rounded third to make sure Fabregas threw to first, came around to reduce the Angels' lead to 3-2.

In the dugout: One day after throwing out his first base runner, Chris Hoiles made his first start as the designated hitter while Lenny Webster caught. Among the reasons: Pete Incaviglia is batting .090 (2-for-22) lifetime against Angels starter Chuck Finley, and manager Davey Johnson said Incaviglia may be favoring his left forearm after being hit there by a pitch Sunday. And Hoiles came into the game batting .334 (10-for-29) off Finley.

In the clubhouse: "If they're booing you at the end of the season when you come on the field, then that's saying something. But if they boo you for an outing when you don't go out and do the job, that's just part of the game." -- Reliever Terry Mathews, on the reception he got from the Camden Yards crowd Monday after making a throwing error and giving up a three-run homer.

Pub Date: 5/07/97

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