Balls just aren't dropping on Milligan

March 21, 1991|By Peter Schmuck | Peter Schmuck,Sun Staff Correspondent

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- Left fielder Randy Milligan still is feeling the effects of the ankle sprain he suffered in the first game of the exhibition season, but he said he will not interrupt the club's outfield experiment to avoid aggravating the injury.

Milligan sprained his right ankle when he collided with Chicago White Sox first baseman Frank Thomas on March 7. He was back in action eight days later, but has suffered from renewed soreness and swelling since returning to the outfield.

"It's bad," Milligan said yesterday. "This was my worst day. But I can play on it. I imagine I'll be out there."

The ankle ligaments are stable, according to club officials, so there is no danger of further damage. It's just a matter of the inflammation subsiding. Milligan blames himself for that.

"I forgot to take my medication the past few days," he said.

Milligan spent his fifth game in left field and still hasn't had a fly ball hit in his direction, unless you count the two balls that Charlie O'Brien and Daryl Boston drove over the left-field fence. Their back-to-back home runs off Dave Johnson helped carry the New York Mets to a 9-4 victory over the Orioles at Thomas J. White Stadium.

"I'm just taking up space out there," said Milligan, who turned the wrong way on O'Brien's homer. "I could tell from the home runs that I still have a lot to learn. It's not easy. It seems like I learn something new every day." Milligan has taken advantage of his opportunities at the plate. In his three Grapefruit League games since coming back from the ankle injury, he has five hits in nine at-bats and has walked twice.

* Johnson has been vulnerable to the home run during his major-league career, but he was surprised that O'Brien was able to take him deep.

"That was the best sinker I threw all day," said Johnson, who gave up five runs on eight hits in four innings. "He just went down there and golfed it out. Boston's I thought was just a fly ball that got up in the wind.

"I don't know what it is. The guys who hit home runs off me are not the guys you'd expect to hit home runs off me. I don't know if it's a concentration problem or what."

The highlight of the game for Johnson was his performance at the plate. He sacrificed in his first at-bat and singled up the middle in his second. He claims they are the only at-bats of his major-league career.

"I don't ever want to bat again," he said. "I've got a perfect average. I won't care if I never pick up a bat again."

* The Orioles ended a string of seven games in which the club committed at least one error. The longest such stretch of the regular season last year was five games, June 13-17. The club has made 23 errors in 13 spring games. It took 34 regular season games to make as many errors last year.

* The progress of comeback left-handers Jeff Ballard and Mike Flanagan has the Orioles organization very excited. The two of them were a combined 4-13 last year with a 4.98 ERA. This spring, they are a combined 2-0 with 0.38 ERA. In 24 innings, they have given up just 13 hits and walked three.

* The 11 unearned runs that Jeff Robinson has allowed in his first three exhibition starts are more than any Orioles pitcher allowed during the entire 1990 season.

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