04/25/2002 8:31 pm ET
Jason Johnson out for at least one month
By Gary Washburn / MLB.com
BALTIMORE -- The effects of another drubbing by Pedro Martinez did not linger Thursday. The Orioles had more important concerns.
About 90 minutes before Martinez baffled Baltimore with seven flawless innings, Jason Johnson was having his right middle finger X-rayed after a freak accident while preparing for his scheduled start Friday in Kansas City.
The results were disheartening. Johnson will be out at least three weeks after fracturing the middle finger while working in the bullpen before Thursday's game. According to the 6-foot-6, lanky Johnson, he was simulating his pitching motion and his hand scraped against the mound, bending the finger back.
"I heard a pop," Johnson said. "I was hoping it was just a strain, but it wasn't. I was just doing normal stuff before start my just to get my mechanics right. When I hit it, I knew I hit it hard."
Johnson was the team's No. 2 starter and had just snapped a nine-game losing streak with an impressive win over Tampa Bay on April 20. He complained of "dead arm" after two shabby starts and was just nearing 100 percent health.
Johnson was told he will not be able to throw a ball for at least two weeks and could return to the rotation in perhaps a month. It gives the Orioles' rotation another setback after Josh Towers was sent to the bullpen Tuesday after three subpar starts.
Manager Mike Hargrove has been involved in professional baseball for 30 years and said he had never seen such an unusual occurrence.
"I've never had anything like that happen before," he said. "It was a standard drill. No one could have prevented it."
Johnson tried putting a positive spin on the injury, telling reporters the additional time off will allow his arm to reach full strength. Johnson said he is at about 90 percent.
To take his spot on the roster, the club recalled career minor-leaguer Travis Driskill, who made his first-ever appearance in a Major League uniform when he warmed up in the bullpen Thursday.
The Orioles then added top prospect Sean Douglass from Triple-A Rochester. He will start Friday against the Royals. Douglass, who was 2-1 with a 5.31 ERA in four starts last season, made four starts this year for the Red Wings.
He, Rick Bauer and Calvin Maduro vied for the final spot in the rotation during Spring Training. Douglass, who turns 23 Sunday, was the team's second-round pick in the 1997 draft.
The club sent infielder Brian Roberts, who was promoted on Tuesday, back to Rochester.
PEDRO YET AGAIN
If you thought the Orioles had seen the last of the fireballing arm of Martinez, you were wrong. He has already tossed 12 sparkling innings against Baltimore this season and will face the Orioles again Tuesday at Fenway Park.
In two starts against the Orioles, Martinez has allowed just one unearned run and four hits. Gary Matthews Jr. was the only Oriole to collect a hit off the three-time Cy Young winner, with a single in the sixth.
"He just had everything working today," Matthews Jr. said. "He was mixing up all of his pitches. You definitely don't want to get no-hit, especially at home. So it was a good feeling to get it over with."
Hargrove does not make a habit of commenting on opposing pitchers. But he obliged the media by giving his take on Martinez, who had his 79th career game of 10 or more strikeouts.
"He had great deception with his curveball," he said. "He made everybody look foolish. The only one he didn't was the one he threw to Matthews. Baby Ruth or Babe Ruth, (he's) going to make you look bad."
Martinez went to a three-ball count with just three batters. He now is 5-1 with a 1.72 ERA against Baltimore.
Hargrove said the club considered placing Towers back in the rotation to replace Johnson, but Towers had not made enough progress is his throwing program to earn the nod. Hargrove and pitching coach Mark Wiley want to see Towers throw more offspeed pitches and improve his fastball location.
He allowed eight homers in his first three starts. Towers made his season debut in the bullpen and allowed two runs and five hits in three innings.
"We saw some good things from him today," Hargrove said. "He had a rough start but made some good pitches."
Maduro lost for the second time this season against the Red Sox, and, yes, he will oppose Martinez at Fenway Park on Tuesday. Maduro allowed five runs and six hits in five innings. He was hurt by some control problems and Boston's timely hitting.
"I promise you the next start will be different," he said. "I just made some mistakes with location. Some of those hits you could do nothing about. I can't worry who is out there pitching for them. I need to keep my team in the game."
Gary Washburn covers the Orioles for MLB.com and can be reached at email@example.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.