MILWAUKEE -- The Baltimore Orioles added some organizational depth in the outfield yesterday when the club announced that it had signed free agent Oddibe McDowell to a contract with the Rochester Red Wings.
McDowell, who was released by the Atlanta Braves near the end of spring training, hit .243 with seven home runs and 25 RBI in 305 at-bats for the Braves last year. He was waived the day before the club would have had to guarantee his entire 1991 salary.
The Orioles entered the regular season with five outfielders on the major-league roster, so McDowell might be one injury away from a reserve role in Baltimore. He apparently will play full time in center field for the Red Wings.
"Oddibe McDowell is someone who gives us experience at the major-league level in case we get any injuries," assistant general manager Doug Melvin said. "We said last year that we wanted some depth at the Triple-A level. He's not standing in anyone's way, since he'll be playing center field. Luis Mercedes will start in right and David Segui will be in left."
Segui would figure to be the first outfield call-up, unless the club decided that it would be counterproductive to keep him on the major-league bench when he could be playing regularly in the minors. Mercedes made a big impression in spring training, but is expected to play a full season at the Class AAA level.
McDowell, 28, is a left-handed hitter who still has some speed on the bases. He has averaged 26 stolen bases in his six major-league seasons, but his stolen-base numbers declined dramatically after his first three major-league seasons.
McDonald to throw today
Right-hander Ben McDonald is scheduled to pitch five innings against rookie-league competition today in what may be the final test of his sore right elbow. If all goes well, he could make his 1991 major-league debut on Monday in Chicago.
"He'll throw about 65 to 70 pitches," pitching coach Al Jackson said. "That'll probably get him through five innings. Those kids will help him out a little bit. They swing at anything."
McDonald would step up to about 90 pitches in his first major-league start.
Milacki on the way back?
Manager Frank Robinson said that Dave Johnson probably would come back on three days' rest to pitch Sunday's game against the Texas Rangers at Memorial Stadium, but it might be no coincidence that Sunday is the day that Bob Milacki is scheduled to pitch next for the Hagerstown Suns.
Milacki pitched last night, so he would be working on four days' rest if he was inserted back into the major-league rotation for the series finale against the Rangers.
"It's tough to plan too far ahead at this point in the year," general manager Roland Hemond said. "The weather has a way of changing your schedule."
Ryan set for Memorial Stadium
Rangers right-hander Nolan Ryan, who defeated the Orioles for the first time in 15 years on Sunday, will try to break a 16-year winless streak at Memorial Stadium Saturday. He'll probably match up against right-hander Jose Mesa.
Flanagan to remain in bullpen
Manager Frank Robinson is getting tired of answering questions about Mike Flanagan and his future in the Orioles' pitching plans.
"Mike Flanagan is in the bullpen, period," Robinson said, "but I'm not going to say he's never going to make a start. The guy spent his whole career as a starting pitcher. Even if all the starters are pitching great, there could come a game where the other team has some good left-handed hitters and I ask him to start. There's always a possibility."