Coming back from a strained elbow, Ben McDonald pitched two innings in a simulated game before the Orioles met the Kansas City Royals last night and felt no pain.
"It's the best I've felt all year," McDonald said.
"Better than I thought he'd be," manager John Oates said. "The most important thing was he said he felt free, loose.
"I'm not sure how to gauge what percentage he's back, but Jeff Ballard said he'd like to have four of those Ben fastballs a night, that's all he would need."
McDonald will throw again before tomorrow's game in Toronto, probably three innings. Sometime next week McDonald may go to an Orioles farm team for a few starts.
"He won't pitch for us until all four of his pitches are 100 percent and he can throw 80 pitches in a game," Oates said. "It'll probably be three more times before he's ready to do that."
That is, tomorrow's simulated game and two minor-league starts.It'll probably be two weeks before McDonald pitches for the Orioles.
* BRETT VS. MILACKI: George Brett has Bob Milacki's number. He went 2-for-3 against the Orioles righthander in last night's 9-8 Kansas City win and is now 10-for-17 lifetime.
"I don't have the answer," Milacki said. "I pitch him off the plate and away. One ball he hit was up, the other down."
* SABERHAGEN SORE: Royals ace Bret Saberhagen (6-3) retired last night with soreness in his right shoulder after giving up five fifth-inning runs. Saberhagen, who had won five straight
decisions, was to fly to Kansas City today and be examined by Dr. Steve Joyce, the Royals' team physician.
* BY THE WAY: The last time the Orioles erupted for five runs in an inning at Memorial Stadium was June 18, 1990. The victim was another Cy Young Award winner, Boston's Roger Clemens.
FIRST ERROR: When centerfielder Brian McRae dropped Leo Gomez's fly ball in the second inning, it was the first error of his major-league career, in his 95th game. He had no better success at the plate, where he went 0-for-5.
* BROTHER SIGNED: The Orioles yesterday signed third baseman Brad Seitzer, their 11th-round pick in this month's free-agent draft and the brother of K.C. third baseman Kevin Seitzer. Brad, 21, batted .317 with 11 home runs and 112 RBIs in three years at Memphis State.
* THIS 'N THAT: Cal Ripken went 2-for-4 to restore his American League-leading average to .350 . . . K.C. reliever Jeff Montgomery, who picked up last night's win with a scoreless 10th inning, has worked 18 career innings over 13 games against the Orioles without allowing a run . . . The Orioles are 16 games under .500, their lowest point of the season . . . The Royals' three errors were a season-high . . . Danny Tartabull's two homers, including the game-winner, marked the fifth time he has clubbed two in one game.