MINNEAPOLIS -- Ben McDonald, who is on the disabled list for the second time this season, will go on a rehabilitation assignment before he is activated again.
Manager John Oates indicated last night that McDonald might make as many as four minor-league appearances before he rejoins the Orioles.
"I don't want Ben pitching in an Orioles uniform until he is ready to give me 80 pitches as a starter," said Oates.
"Over an eight- or 10-day period, he could work three or four times. I don't know what it will take -- maybe 15 or 20 pitches the first time, followed by a day off, then 30 pitches and two days off," said Oates. "We can't afford to do that kind of conditioning at this level, so a rehabilitation assignment is definitely in the
McDonald, sidelined with a strained flexor muscle in his pitching elbow, is due for another test when the club returns home tomorrow after which his re-conditioning program is expected to be more clearly defined.
* WORTHINGTON DECISION DUE: Oates will meet with general manager Roland Hemond tomorrow to discuss the status of Craig Worthington. The third baseman appears ready to return from the disabled list and a roster move will have to be made to make room for him.
The decision may be easier than Oates would like. Jeff McKnight was not available for last night's game because of a swollen hand, the result of a collision with the leftfield fence
in the Metrodome Monday night.
X-rays were negative, but McKnight was unable to grip a bat last night. If he is going to be out for even a few days he could end up trading places with Worthington. That, however, would still leave the Orioles short of outfielders, so an additional move is possible.
* SMITH GETS TWIN ENDORSEMENT: Minnesota general manager Andy MacPhail confirmed yesterday that the Twins were torn between Mark Smith and David McCarty as the player they wanted with the third pick in Monday's amateur draft.
The Orioles ended up getting Smith, a righthanded-hitting outfielder from Southern Cal, with the ninth pick in the draft. "I'm surprised he was still around," MacPhail said of Smith. "If we hadn'ttaken McCarty he would have been the third player selected.
"There was some divided opinion, and we realized Smith might be the more conventional choice," said MacPhail. "But McCarthy's power potential really excited our people."
* THIS 'N THAT: lemson third baseman Jimmy Crowley, son of Twins and former Orioles batting coach Terry Crowley, was an 11th-round selection of the Boston Red Sox in the amateur draft.
Kent Hrbek's 30 home runs are the most by an active player against the Orioles. The leader with 31 won't be adding to his total, at least not anytime soon. His name is Dwight Evans.
Postscript on Todd Frohwirth's 2 1/3 -inning stint Monday night -- he required only 16 pitches to retire the seven hitters he faced.