OAKLAND, Calif. -- In their seemingly endless search for a shot in the arm, the Orioles have turned to a surprising candidate in an effort to find some temporary relief.
The left arm of veteran Mike Flanagan was entrusted with the task of facing the predominantly righthanded-hitting lineup of the Oakland A's this afternoon. The move was a rather startling departure from original plans because less than 24 hours earlier Flanagan was not even listed as one of the three candidates for the starting assignment.
Originally manager Frank Robinson said he would choose amonJeff Robinson, Bob Milacki or Dave Johnson, but said he changed his mind while en route to Oakland yesterday.
"I just figured why not try him," said Robinson. "He's a veteranand he's had some success here. Everything else we've tried has backfired, maybe this will frontfire."
Pitching coach Al Jackson indicated that Flanagan's start was one-time shot, and wouldn't disrupt whatever rotation the Orioles eventually develop. But Robinson wouldn't go that far, even though he has insisted all along he was satisfied with Flanagan in the relief role the lefthander has filled so well.
"You never go in thinking it's a one-time thing," said RobinsonHowever, the manager did make a point of saying that Flanagan "wasn't in the rotation," that he was merely making a start.
Flanagan appeared to be among those caught off guard by thannouncement. "I've been able to do the job out of the bullpen," he said, "but I don't think too far ahead."
* QUICK DRAW McKNIGHT: Robinson didn't waste any tim getting Jeff McKnight, recalled yesterday from Rochester, into the starting lineup. The switch-hitter, who was leading the International League with a .383 average, played first base in place of the slumping Randy Milligan.
McKnight had a single in four at-bats and hit the ball sharply twother times.