ROCHESTER -- Roy Smith, who went 5-0 in his first minor league season a dozen years ago, is a pitcher waiting to return to the major leagues.
"I think I'm a big league pitcher. I think I've proven that," Smith said. "You don't walk around with a sign on your chest that says that, but it's true. I'd like to earn my way there."
Smith, who has pitched with the Cleveland Indians and Minnesota Twins, had an impressive spring training. In five games with the Rochester Red Wings this season, he's 2-2 with a 2.57 earned run average. He has 22 strikeouts and only five walks in 24 innings.
"He knows how to pitch," said Wings manager Greg Biagini. "He's been around. He's certainly been strong here."
Smith has pitched well at the Triple A level this season using "experience and maturity," said Wings pitching coach Dick Bosman.
"He also recognizes that getting guys out on a certain pitch at this level may not mean the same thing happens at the major league level," Bosman said.
Smith said he has regained the confidence he lost in his changeup last season, when he went 5-10 with the Twins. He had a 10-6 season with the Twins in 1989.
Bosman said Smith needs to improve the changeup against righthanded hitters and needs a new breaking ball to complement his slow curve. Smith said he and Bosman are working on a cut fastball with some success.
Smith, 29, said he's not sure turmoil on the Orioles' pitching staff improves his chance at a spot in Baltimore.
"I hope the Orioles stay in contention," he said. "I'm more valuable to a contender. If things go bad, a team tends to look to the future and the younger pitchers. I saw pitching here as an opportunity in the long haul. When I do go back to the majors, I want to go back with something more than I had. I don't fool myself. I know what works here may not work there."
Smith also knows that major league expansion means a new chance for players with experience.
"Everybody is going to get younger with expansion," he said.
* Third baseman Leo Gomez is expected in Rochester today and should start tonight against the Clippers. The arrival of Gomez means Tommy Shields, a 26-year-old utility infielder who played with the Buffalo Bison last year, will shift to shortstop or second base. Shields, a solid fielder, has 21 hits in 19 games and a .321 batting average. His average leads the team now that Jeff McKnight has been called up to Baltimore.
* David Segui expected to spend several games a week in the outfield, but he continues to play first base. Biagini said he wants Segui to concentrate on improving his hitting. "He's had some leg and lower back problems and there's no reason to aggravate them," the Wings manager said, adding that the outfield experiment is not dead.
* Wings pitcher Mike Mussina should pitch Sunday after missing a start and spending a week on the disabled list with a sore, tight shoulder. Mussina, who is 2-0 in four starts with a 2.52 ERA, said he has never had a similar injury. He is looking at films from last year and from his college games at Stanford to see if a change in his pitching motion caused the injury.
* Baltimore native Mike Linskey has yet to win a game in four starts. He has given up 26 hits in 13 innings and carries a 10.54 ERA. "He's not making good pitches," Biagini said. "He's pitching from behind and he's up in the strike zone. He's not a power pitcher so he can't pitch that way. He's trying to do too much to impress people. He's had all these accolades in the past few years and he's trying too hard to live up to them." Biagini said Linskey, the Orioles Minor League Pitcher of the Year in 1989, will remain in the starting rotation.