- The Washington Times - Tuesday, April 16, 2002

CHICAGO In a season already full of demoralizing losses after only two weeks of play, the Baltimore Orioles suffered their most lopsided defeat yesterday in a 13-4 trouncing at the hands of the Chicago White Sox.
More troubling than the final score, though, was an abrupt turn of events that has the Orioles worried about the health of three players and the availability of their suddenly overtaxed pitching staff.
Starting pitcher Jason Johnson, long reliever Chris Brock and outfielder Marty Cordova all emerged with physical ailments yesterday Johnson is dealing with what he terms a "dead arm" that limited him to a career-low 1⅓-inning outing at Comiskey Park, Brock lasted just ⅔ of an inning in relief of Johnson before leaving with a sore right shoulder and Cordova never even made it into the starting lineup after complaining of an inflamed right hip.
Both Cordova and Brock returned to Baltimore yesterday to be examined by team orthopedist Charles Silberstein, while Johnson said he's "going to take it easy for a couple of days" in hopes his right arm will spring back to life.
Not the way the 3-9 Orioles wanted to finish off the first leg of a three-city road trip that continues in the Bronx tonight with the first of three games against the New York Yankees.
"Today was not a good day," manager Mike Hargrove said. "They're never fun when you have them, and you certainly don't want to have many of them, but they're going to happen."
All three ailments are costly for the Orioles, but Johnson's unusual battle with a dead arm may prove to be the most damaging. The 28-year-old right-hander was not himself in his last start Thursday against the Devil Rays, but he thought he had overcome the problem heading into yesterday's outing.
Right from the start, it was obvious that something wasn't right with Johnson.
He gave up two singles and a walk to the first four batters he faced, but the more telling signs were Johnson's decreased velocity he said his fastball was down from the mid-90s to the high-80s and his uneasy manner on the mound. Johnson was hesitant to throw the ball, frequently stepping off the rubber or twirling around to fake a pickoff throw to second base. And after getting tagged for five more runs and allowing six straight batters to reach base in the second inning, Hargrove decided he had seen enough.
"I think I'm just going through a dead-arm period right now," said Johnson (0-3), who has not won in his last 12 starts dating back to Aug. 6. "I've been told to take it easy for a couple of days. But the training staff told me everybody goes through a dead-arm period. It usually happens in spring training; it just so happens that mine carried over to the start of the season."
Johnson insisted he will not miss his next scheduled start Saturday at Tampa Bay, but he also noted that it can take "a week-and-a-half" to get through a dead-arm phase.
"These are the things you have to deal with," pitching coach Mark Wiley said. "This is all part of a 162-game season. He's still strong; he's still one of our best pitchers."
With the Baltimore bullpen already thin because long man Rodrigo Lopez pitched six innings in four days, Hargrove and Wiley desperately needed Brock to give them multiple innings in relief of Johnson yesterday. Turns out Brock couldn't even last as long as Johnson did.
The right-hander was greeted with a two-run double by Carlos Lee on his first pitch, then gave up back-to-back doubles to Royce Clayton and Kenny Lofton in the third before the training staff converged on the mound to see if something was wrong was him.
Brock was pulled with what Hargrove termed "tightness in the back of his [right] shoulder," having made it through just ⅔ of an inning. Brock, who said the pain he felt was not in the same area of his shoulder that troubled him this spring, was sent back to Baltimore last night to be examined, and his status is up in the air.
"I needed to go 3-to-4 innings, and I obviously hurt the team by not being able to do that," Brock said. "I just want to go find out what's wrong with it and hopefully get it fixed."
The Orioles will wait to hear about Brock's prognosis, but they have already taken at least one pre-emptive move to help rescue the laboring pitching staff Class AAA Rochester right-hander Rick Bauer was due to join the team in New York last night.
The injury to Cordova's right hip comes only four days after the Orioles' lone offseason free agent signee was activated off the disabled list from a strained right quadriceps. Cordova had yet to play in the field, serving only as designated hitter three straight days, but he was not included in yesterday's starting lineup after complaining about a sore hip.

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