BOSTON -- Contradicting an earlier statement from the Orioles, left-hander Doug Johns said yesterday that his failure to accompany the club to Anaheim, Calif., for a three-game series last week was provoked by a "family matter," and not a recurrence of the insomnia that cost him part of the 1998 season.
Johns, dressing in the cramped visitors' clubhouse at Fenway Park before last night's game, said he flew home to Plantation, Fla., to be with his mother. He showed up at the team hotel in Arlington, Texas, on Monday before returning to Florida. Johns rejoined the Orioles at Camden Yards for Thursday's doubleheader and was the winning pitcher in Game 2.
General manager Frank Wren said Johns had been in Baltimore receiving treatment for the "condition that caused his insomnia." Johns missed about two weeks last season because of symptoms related to the sleeping disorder.
"I've been sleeping fine," Johns said, adding that he was unaware the club had indicated otherwise. "It was a family matter. In fact, I kissed my mom goodbye yesterday morning at 6: 30. She had to be at work at 7.
"Monday was Yom Kippur. My mom celebrated it, so I was with her. That was good."
Told of the reason given for his absence, Johns said, "Maybe that's just the way they wanted to explain it."
As for his arrival in Texas, Johns confirmed that he attended the NFL game Monday night in Dallas between the Cowboys and Atlanta Falcons. "And I wanted to be with my teammates because I hadn't seen them in a while."
Assistant general manager Bruce Manno, who made the trip to Boston for the four-game series, stood by the club's explanation and offered a clarification of Johns' statements.
"When he says 'family matter,' I think he's referring to himself and his own family problem with this whole thing. It's not two different stories. It's the same story," Manno said.
"All I know," said manager Ray Miller, "is they told me I could use him, so fine, I'll use him. I really don't know the whole situation. Frank told me [Johns] was meeting with some people and was unavailable, and after he meets and talks with some people, he'd be available, so I stayed away from him."
Johns, who said he no longer receives treatment for insomnia, had made four consecutive starts before being used in relief in Game 2. He pitched 2 1/3 scoreless innings, allowing three hits and improving his record to 6-3.
"It worked out pretty good," he said.
Where will he work next? Miller said Johns could make another start if he removes rookie Matt Riley from the rotation, a scenario that appears likely to happen.
"[Riley] felt something in his back yesterday and he's walked 11 in I don't know how many innings [7 1/3] and his velocity is down," Miller said. "We've accomplished what we wanted. We wanted him to see what it's all about.
"I really believe you'll see the true kid next spring. He's pitched more than he's ever pitched in his life this year. He'll go home and freshen up and then come to spring training having a better idea what this is about and realizing, 'Boy, if I can get my changeup over, I can pitch.' "
No news is good news
Miller said he hadn't received any further updates on Cal Ripken's condition after Thursday's lower back surgery in Cleveland.
"I asked late last night and they said everything was fine," Miller said.
"They told me it would be three days in the hospital, a week's rest and then they would have him up walking. I'm glad he had it done."
Ryan Minor started at third base again last night, assuming his role as Ripken's fill-in when baseball's Iron Man has been forced from the lineup. Miller said he expected Minor to remain the starter "unless he struggles."
Minor had a hit around two strikeouts before being replaced by Jeff Reboulet in the ninth inning.
Kingsale gets a break
After remaining out of Game 2 of Thursday's doubleheader until being used late in the field, rookie Eugene Kingsale was on the bench again last night. Brady Anderson started in center, and Derrick May served as the designated hitter.
Miller said he wanted to get another veteran bat in the lineup to compensate for a youthful bottom portion that included Minor and Jerry Hairston. And it didn't hurt that May was 2-for-4 with a homer lifetime against Red Sox starter Bret Saberhagen. May's single in the fourth inning gave the Orioles the only run of the game.
"If [Saberhagen's] on, he'll carve up some kids," Miller said. "And I think Eugene's been thinking a little bit the last couple of days. It looks to me like all of a sudden he's thinking, 'I've got to get hits,' instead of just playing the game."
Streak in review
During the Orioles' 13-game winning streak, which ended with a Game 1 loss to Oakland on Thursday, they outscored opponents 78-37, batted .295 with 17 homers and posted a 2.75 ERA. Albert Belle hit safely in 12 of the 13 games, batting .392 with three homers and 10 RBIs. Mike Timlin had seven saves.
Timlin recorded a save in each of the last five victories. He resumed with another save last night and is 18-for-19 in save opportunities since the All-Star break after converting 18 of 19 over the second half last season.
"I'm going to give him a calendar that says July 1 next spring," Miller said.
Around the horn
Saberhagen issued his first walk since Aug. 6 when he lost Belle in the first inning. He hadn't walked a batter in his last four starts, covering 21 innings. Boston's Nomar Garciaparra extended his hitting streak to 10 games with a fourth-inning single. B. J. Surhoff, who has career highs of 28 homers and 106 RBIs, played in his career-high 314th straight game, the longest current streak in the majors. Mike Mussina on leaving a shutout after six innings in his third start since leaving the rotation Aug. 22 when he was hit by a line drive. "I have to favor on the side of caution," said Mussina, who threw 88 pitches. "It still feels like spring training to me, trying to get the arm strength back."
The boss vs. Bos. Orioles ace Mike Mussina faced the Red Sox three times this season and excelled in each, pitching to a 1.17 ERA. A look:
D Site IP H ER BB SO Res
6/24 Bal 9 7 2 0 10 L 2-1
7/21 Bos 8 4 1 2 3 W 6-1
9/24 Bos 6 4 0 1 8 W 1-0
Tot 23 15 3 3 21 2-1
Pub Date: 9/25/99