SARASOTA, Fla. -- Left-hander Jeff Ballard continues to give every indication that he is ready to rebound from a painful and frustrating 1990 season.
Ballard pitched four innings last night, giving up one run on four hits in the Baltimore Orioles' 7-2 loss to the Texas Rangers at Ed Smith Stadium. He has given up just one run in seven innings of exhibition competition.
"I'll take that," Ballard said. "It was a little bit more of a struggle than the first game, but I made it through four innings."
The elbow stiffness that has cropped up the past couple of weeks has not subsided completely, but Ballard said that has not affected his arm strength the way his post-surgical soreness did last year.
"It takes longer each time before I feel any stiffness," he said. "That's a good sign. It's not the same kind of soreness. Every pitcher goes through a spell where you have a sore shoulder or a sore elbow. I've never been concerned about it."
* Right-hander Bob Milacki was not so fortunate. He took over in the middle innings and gave up five runs in the fifth inning to take the loss.
Milacki gave up six runs on seven hits and four walks in three innings of work. He originally was scheduled to go four, but he had easily reached his pitch count in three.
"He was just working on a different delivery, and he doesn't have his mechanics down yet," manager Frank Robinson said.
* First baseman Glenn Davis left the game with what club officials described as a "kink" in his neck.
"It had been bothering me a little bit before the game, and it tightened up on my first swing," Davis said. "It's just a mild stiff neck. It shouldn't take too long to loosen up."
Davis said he would be re-examined today. He will not make today's trip to face the Boston Red Sox, but apparently was not on the traveling squad to begin with.
* Relief pitcher Gregg Olson made sure there would be no unrealistic expectations when he took the mound last night for his first exhibition appearance of 1991.
"I have nothing good to say about how I feel," Olson said. "It's my first outing, and I'm not expecting it to be pretty."
But it was all a case of reverse psychology. Olson worked a perfect eighth inning, striking out one.
* Randy Milligan is expected to return to the exhibition lineup Friday, but his jammed right ankle still is noticeably swollen five days after he collided with Chicago White Sox first baseman Frank Thomas.
"If this was the last two weeks, I'd have the doctors shoot it up and I'd play on it," he said, "but there's no point in that yet."
* Dwight Evans made his Baltimore Orioles exhibition debut last night, going hitless in two at-bats as the designated hitter. Evans flied out and struck out against Rangers starter Bobby Witt.
Evans is not expected to make today's trip to Winter Haven to face his former teammates.
* Newly acquired minor-league prospect Paul Carey drove home a run with a sharp infield out in the sixth inning in his first Grapefruit League at-bat and singled in the eighth.
* Milligan was one of two players whose contracts were renewed by Orioles management, but he did not raise a stink over it. He recognized that the club could have given him a lot less than the $330,000 called for in his new contract.
"Those are just the rules we have to play by," he said. "They could have done anything they wanted to. I'm not sitting here crying and complaining about it. I won't be walking out of camp."
Milligan and Mike Devereaux, the other renewed player, will be eligible for salary arbitration after this season.