Randy Milligan returned to the Baltimore Orioles starting lineup at first base last night, three days after spraining his left thumb while diving to try to catch a ball.
"I'm going to try it without the brace," said Milligan, who was beginning to break his batting slump with eight RBI in 12 games. "The swelling has diminished and the pain has subsided, although I wouldn't say it's all gone."
Milligan went 1-for-3 with an RBI single last night.
He said he was advised by doctors that there was a slight chance he could re-injure the thumb, but a greater chance that he wouldn't.
Manager John Oates waited until after batting practice to decide on the lineup, the design of which had him scrambling earlier in the day.
"I wanted to go see how it felt swinging the bat," said Milligan. "It felt good doing everyday chores, so I went to the cage early and tested it. I know there are a lot of guys injured."
The use of the braces -- he has three depending on whether he is hitting or fielding -- was considered, but Milligan decided to play without them because, he said, "it starts to play with your head.
"I'm going out and do the same things I've always done. If I wear a brace, it gives the pitcher an advantage. He'll try to bust me in."
Milligan said he could have played Saturday night, but gave himself another day to be sure.
While Oates waited for the final word on Milligan, he inserted names into the lineup one at a time -- as the injury reports rolled in.
With Dwight Evans bothered by his sore Achilles' tendon, Oates was left with three outfielders and needed assurance that Milligan could play first base so David Segui could be in left.
"Billy [Ripken] is in," Oates said about three hours before game time. "That's three. Now, I have two options if Milligan can't play."
They were: Segui at first and Juan Bell in left, where he made his major-league debut without a chance for one inning Saturday night, or Segui in left and Ernie Whitt at first, where he never has played in the regular season.
"I don't have to worry about that now," said Oates. "There are no reservations with Moose."
After Milligan gave him the go-ahead, Oates looked at his final lineup and said, "Not bad."
As trainer Richie Bancells told the manager that Milligan was taking live batting practice, Oates said jokingly: "I didn't think it was dead. If that's the case, I'm going to bring back [Babe] Ruth and [Rogers] Hornsby and [Lou] Gehrig."
Johnson still uncertain
Pitcher Dave Johnson, on the disabled list with a groin injury for nearly a month, plans to get back on the mound again tomorrow.
"It seems to be feeling a little better," said Johnson. "When I threw on the side the second time, I aggravated the injury and had to take another week off. Nobody expected this to be this long."
He has been playing catch and doing his running while he awaits improvement.
Bullpen finally gives in
Jeff Robinson pitched 6 2/3 tough innings Saturday night to keep the Orioles in a 2-2 game, but the Dirty Half Dozen finally was routed in a six-run eighth, giving the Toronto Blue Jays an 8-4 victory.
Oates said, "There hasn't been a bullpen that didn't give up a run once in a while."
Paul Kilgus and Todd Frohwirth (whose hitless Orioles career was halted at 8 1/3 innings by Mookie Wilson's double) absorbed most of the damage.
"We just didn't get a break in that situation," said Robinson, who pitched out of numerous jams.
"I wouldn't say my outing was typical [12 base-runners]. I usually don't give up that many. But fortunately, I had good defensive plays and was able to make the pitches to get out of most of them."
Davis nominated again
Injured Orioles first baseman Glenn Davis is among 22 major-leaguers nominated for the Roberto Clemente Award.
"I remember being picked two or three times in Houston," he said.
The award, given for humanitarian service on and off the field, went to Oakland Athletics pitcher Dave Stewart last year.
Davis has earmarked nearly $30,000 in tickets to be used by Baltimore-area youth groups and donates $1,000 per home run to children's charities.
His major project is The Carpenter's Way Ranch in Georgia, which provides shelter for children who have been physically or emotionally abused, abandoned or orphaned.
P Daryl Moore of Frederick was the Orioles' minor-league Player of the Month for May. He had 3 saves and an 0.72 ERA in 10 games for the Keys. . . . Saturday night's game was attended by author David Lamb, whose book, "Stolen Season," details his travels across the country to watch minor-league baseball. Also in the crowd was a New Hampshire couple, Bill Craib and Sue Easler, who are touring 178 major- and minor-league parks this summer. They will drive approximately 40,000 miles before finishing the season at Yankee Stadium on Oct. 6. . . . Bobby Grich and Doug DeCinces are returning for their part in a "Season To Remember." Grich will be back June 18, the 17th anniversary of his three-homer game. DeCinces returns June 28 to commemorate the weekend "Oriole Magic" was born when he hit a dramatic, ninth-inning homer to beat the Detroit Tigers on June 22, 1979.