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Johnson in no rush to bring Swift up to O's Manager not sure when, or if, veteran can help

General manager Pat Gillick yesterday downplayed the possibility that newly signed pitcher Bill Swift could be a starter for the Orioles once rosters expand on Sept. 1. Manager Davey Johnson was awaiting a report on Swift's relief stint for Triple-A Rochester on Wednesday night to get a better read on how the right-hander might help the club down the stretch.

Swift breezed through the eighth inning but was removed with two outs in the ninth. He was charged with two runs, walked two and struck out two.

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Released last week by the Colorado Rockies, Swift is trying to rebuild a career sidetracked by elbow trouble. He said before Wednesday's outing that he wanted to help the Orioles these last two months while also keeping an eye toward next year by showcasing himself to potential suitors.

"I don't know what the condition of his arm strength is," Johnson said, "or if he's going to be a one- or two-inning pitcher. Originally, the thought was we've got doubleheaders coming with Cleveland [Sept. 15 and 16] and maybe he could start for us. But maybe he's not going to be that far along."

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Swift is due to pitch again Friday. Johnson said there's no consideration being given to calling him up before Monday and making him eligible for the postseason.

Davis not close to return

Eric Davis continues to look good taking batting practice and has done some running, but Johnson isn't any closer to answering when Davis will be able to play.

"He was running with the outfielders [Wednesday]. I don't know what he's feeling, but he looks good to me. Right now, he probably needs a couple weeks. That'll be up to Eric," Johnson said.

"I could activate him and just have him scare the heck out of people. Have him stand around the bat rack when [other teams] think about going to their left-handers."

Davis said Wednesday that he's not ready to play games at any level.

Boskie on the mend

Shawn Boskie threw in the bullpen for the third time since going on the disabled list Aug. 16, this time extending himself for 28 minutes. Asked by Johnson how the session went, Boskie said, "Great. I'm ready."

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Boskie, out with right elbow tendinitis, was in the bullpen for 13 1/2 minutes before Tuesday's game, throwing his breaking ball for the first time since the injury. He will be activated when rosters expand.

Royals weren't fazed

For a team fighting to avoid having the worst record in the American League, the Kansas City Royals were impressive in standing their ground against the Orioles' big three of Jimmy Key, Scott Erickson and Mike Mussina. Key and Erickson didn't get a decision in the first two games, which the teams split, and Mussina took the loss yesterday.

The Royals waited out Erickson and Mussina's flirtations with no-hitters, and went away looking better than their 54-76 record.

"Anytime you face the three people that we faced, you don't expect to romp on anybody," said Kansas City manager Tony Muser. "We knew they were going to be hard-fought games and we were able to match up our pitching pretty good.

"You've got to give our kids credit. They did a good job of holding Baltimore down and kept us in the ballgame. I congratulate our two young guys [Glendon Rusch and Jose Rosado], who went out there and did a heck of a job."

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Rusch gave up four runs in six innings Tuesday and Rosado allowed one run in seven innings yesterday. Both pitchers are 22.

Olson regaining form

Former Orioles closer Gregg Olson threw a scoreless ninth for the Royals, striking out one and continuing to impress with his latest team. He's allowed a run in just three of 21 appearances with the Royals after being released earlier this year by the Minnesota Twins.

With the exception of one outing in New York on Aug. 14, Olson has given up only two runs in 25 innings with Kansas City. Four of his 16 inherited runners have scored.

"I got squared away a little bit when I came over to K.C.," he said. "I've been able to do the things I'm supposed to do when I'm healthy."

The much-traveled Olson racked up a club-record 160 saves in six seasons with the Orioles, but wasn't the same after suffering a partially torn ligament in his right elbow in 1993.

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"Hopefully, I can continue this and get rid of everybody asking, 'Well, is he healthy?' I haven't had a problem since I blew out," he said.

"I haven't been back to form, and if you don't put up the numbers, there's a reason why. And everybody thinks it's an arm injury and not something stupid like mechanics."

Around the horn

Jerome Walton, on an injury rehab assignment with Single-A Frederick, had to leave Wednesday's game because of back spasms and said he wouldn't be playing last night. Walton has missed most of this season because of groin and leg injuries, but is hoping to be ready when rosters expand. Aaron Ledesma committed his first error since joining the Orioles on July 15, a span of 22 games, when he failed to play a tough hop in the ninth inning on a bouncer by Mike Sweeney. It proved costly when pinch hitter Larry Sutton followed with a three-run homer off reliever Terry Mathews. It was the second pinch homer allowed by the Orioles, the other a grand slam by New York's Charlie Hayes on June 4. Cal Ripken's first at-bat was the 9,721st of his career, moving him past Rusty Staub into 24th place on baseball's all-time list. Ripken went 0-for-4 to end a seven-game hitting streak. Catcher Lenny Webster continues to receive treatment on his strained left shoulder. "He certainly caught a great game [Wednesday] night," Johnson said. "It's not 100 percent, but he doesn't want out of the lineup."

Hits and misses

On the field: Mike Mussina's fifth-inning strikeout of Kansas City rookie Jed Hansen was the 945th of his career, moving him ahead of Milt Pappas for fifth place on the Orioles' all-time list.

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In the dugout: Manager Davey Johnson sat down slumping shortstop Mike Bordick, giving Jeff Reboulet the start. Bordick went into yesterday's game with one hit in his last 34 at-bats. Johnson had said earlier that he would try to provide more rest for Bordick, who played in his 121st game Wednesday.

In the clubhouse: Someone pointed out to Johnson that his players speak of the New York Yankees as if they're much closer than 6 1/2 games back in the AL East. "They were the World Series champion," he said. "They had their way with us last year. They're from New York. You know how those New Yorkers are. They're cocky and everything, so you've got to watch out for them. I've heard how they may not want to catch us, but I don't believe any of that crap, either."

Pub Date: 8/29/97


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