After a 50-pitch simulated game against live hitters yesterday, Ben McDonald was right on schedule in his recovery from a sore elbow.
"I'm real excited," said McDonald. "That's the best my arm felt since before I hurt it in spring training. In the seven games I did start, it never felt this good."
Baltimore Orioles manager John Oates was also pleased wit what he called "normal progress" by McDonald, who is trying to come back from the injury to the pronator muscle he first suffered late in spring training.
"He's right where he should be," said Oates. "His legs felt great, but the command of his pitches wasn't as good this time. That means he's in about the third or fourth start of spring training, the dead period. That's what he went through today."
McDonald's timetable calls for him to throw on the side in a workout tomorrow. Then, according to Oates, "he'll pitch to live hitters whether it's here or out somewhere."
The could mean another simulated game when the Orioles are i Kansas City or a rehabilitation start for one of the teams in the farm system.
"He would have to pitch at least two more times before he'll pitch for us," said the manager.
McDonald said that when he does return to the Orioles roster "I'll be starting. I could go to the bullpen right now. But that's not what they have in mind."
There was no pain, McDonald threw all three of his pitches worked out of the stretch and windup and reiterated that he has learned something from returning the first time.
"I learned the hard way," he said. "I thought I was healthy when I came back the last time, but I wasn't. This time I'm not going to come back too fast."
McDonald said that when he is activated, he will "long tos between starts more often this time. I want to try to keep that muscle stretched."
Juan Bell, Brady Anderson and Chris Hoiles hit against him yesterday, and McDonald did a double take when Hoiles hit what the pitcher thought "was a pretty good curveball when I threw it" deep to center field.
Hoiles had a little help. Coach Elrod Hendricks, who wa catching the session, tipped the pitch.
Smith to face old mates
Roy Smith knew he would be unbeaten when he faces hiMinnesota teammates tonight. He just wasn't sure if the Twins' winning streak would be intact.
"I want to break the streak tonight," he said last night before the Orioles did with a dramatic 6-5 victory. "I don't want it to go to 16 because I don't want us to lose."
Smith was released by the Twins after two seasons in their starting rotation and signed by the Orioles last winter.
"I want to beat them for me," he said. "But it's not a grudge match or anything like that. I like a lot of those guys and I like the manager [Tom Kelly]."
'King of Swing' influence
Terry Crowley was known as the King of Swing when he played for the Orioles. Now, as the Twins' batting coach, his hitters have followed suit.
"There haven't been that many surprises in this lineup," sai Crowley. "You come out of spring training with guys you figure can do it."
The Twins were batting .278, tops in the majors, entering las night and maintained that figure.
"And there have been a lot of timely hits. That's the big thing," said Crowley. "You know the [winning] streak can't go on forever, but Tom Kelly knows he can put nine tough outs a night out there right now."
The Orioles were 1-31 when trailing after eight innings beforlast night. Their other win came on a Tim Hulett home run May 21 at Detroit. . . . The Orioles have had three straight double-figure hit games for the first time this season. . . . Oates said Jeff McKnight has not progressed from his bad wrist as quickly as hoped. "Friday, we thought it would be three or four days, but he still can't put his left hand around the bat. His fingers are barely going together." McKnight used a glove for the first time yesterday. . . . No hints on what might happen when Craig Worthington is ready to return but Oates re-affirmed that "Leo Gomez has not done anything yet to not be the third baseman.". . . . Hoiles, bothered by some arm problems, could catch "if need be," said Oates. Hoiles was the designated hitter again last night. . . . The Orioles wore the 1966 uniforms in batting practice, but changed to the current orange warm-ups for infield. It was a warm-up for Turn Back The Clock Day tomorrow.