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New role OK with 'positive' Boskie Starter turned reliever just wants to 'help us win'

THE BALTIMORE SUN

Being a starting pitcher always had given Shawn Boskie the most enjoyment, if not the greatest success. But there isn't much fun in failure, which made it easier for the Orioles right-hander to accept his move to the bullpen.

Boskie's scheduled start tonight will be taken by Rick Krivda, recalled Sunday from Triple-A Rochester. Boskie saw the change coming, and he understood.

"When I was in the bullpen [Sunday in Minnesota], I knew something was going on," he said. "I'll just roll with the punches. I still remain positive about being able to help our team win."

Though his three hitless innings in relief Friday night couldn't reverse a loss to the Twins, they represented his finest work in quite some time. Boskie had given up seven runs and 10 hits in his most recent start, July 20 against Chicago, and has a 5-4 record and 5.69 ERA.

"I have a positive outlook toward going to the 'pen because I've always pitched pretty well in my career whenever I've been there," said Boskie, who has made nine starts this year and 127 since breaking into the majors in 1990 with the Chicago Cubs. "It's strange because you strive to be the best you can be, and as a starter you get the opportunity to do that every five days, going through an entire lineup. Yet, I've had more consistency being a reliever. I think I'm still a commodity that's going to help us win and go to the playoffs."

Boskie, 30, who was signed by the Orioles as a free agent in December, met with manager Davey Johnson before taking the field.

Johnson told Boskie he still may be called upon to start at some point, depending on various circumstances. Boskie's response: "I'm ready to do that. That's fine."

Whatever it takes for the team to succeed.

"I hope Krivda does great," Boskie said. "Obviously, he's earned the chance. He's pitched great. I'm sure there are many people who think this should have happened a long time ago.

"I want our team to win. I don't want to see anybody not do well. Being in the big leagues is great, but you want to be on a pennant-winning team."

And Boskie wants to have fun again.

"You'd like to do something you're successful at," he said. "When you do bad, you're not enjoying it. It's definitely not enjoyable to stink.

"I've been good at times and bad at times, and it's been frustrating for me more so than anybody else. But that kind of comes with the territory in professional sports. If everyone could dominate, everyone would be a superstar."

Pitching coach Ray Miller said Boskie tends to put too much pressure on himself as a starter, especially when trying to follow up on a positive appearance. And he's noticed that Boskie isn't as strong after being extended for long periods.

"He says he's healthy and has been healthy, but there's definite weakness," Miller said. "Some of that could be mental. You always put too much pressure on yourself."

Ledesma hangs around

Aaron Ledesma got a reprieve when the Orioles designated Mike Johnson for assignment to make room for Krivda. The infielder, who has appeared in four games since having his contract purchased from Rochester on July 15, took the news in stride.

"That's not such bad news," he said while heading for the field to take batting practice.

He said he wasn't staying awake nights worrying about it.

"I honestly haven't even thought about it," said Ledesma, who is 3-for-6 since joining the Orioles. "I'm just here enjoying myself and whatever happens, happens. I have no control over it."

Coppinger still positive

Rocky Coppinger's third start at Double-A Bowie didn't go well, but he continues to see enough positive developments beyond the numbers to remain encouraged about an eventual return to the majors.

Coppinger, on injury rehab because of a strained right elbow, gave up seven hits and four earned runs in six innings in Sunday's 4-1 loss to Harrisburg. One of the hits went for a three-run homer.

"Like with any other injury, you're going to have ups and downs," he said. "I didn't throw the ball so good, but my velocity is coming and my arm feels better every time out. I just made one bad pitch [Sunday] and the guy hit a three-run home run. That's baseball. Overall, I had a good fastball, good slider, good changeup.

"My arm's getting in shape and the soreness afterward isn't as bad as it usually is."

Coppinger's 30-day rehab assignment expires tomorrow, and the right-hander probably will be optioned to Rochester to take Krivda's place.

"I have no idea," he said. "I just talked to [farm director] Syd Thrift and he said they were waiting to talk to my agent [Alan Hendricks] and see what happens."

Johnson hadn't spoken with Bowie manager Joe Ferguson or pitching coach Larry McCall about Sunday's start, so all he had to go by was Coppinger's line. "I know he's not ready for here," Johnson said.

Around the horn

Cal Ripken had two hits to move into a tie with Nellie Fox for 54th place on the all-time hits list with 2,663. His sixth-inning run moved him into a tie with Roberto Clemente for 63rd place with 1,416. Brady Anderson extended his hitting streak to seven games with a sixth-inning double. The unidentified male fan who climbed to the top of the left-field foul pole in the eighth inning did not appear to be drunk, said a policeman, before taking the fan to the central police station. The Rangers committed an error for the first time in 11 games. Texas ranked last in the AL in steals before acquiring Tom Goodwin, who stole his 35th base last night.

Pub Date: 7/29/97

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