Jeff Ballard has been nursing a sore pectoral muscle and may not be able to start Saturday night against the Oakland Athletics.
Baltimore Orioles manager John Oates already has altered his pitching rotation to give Ballard two extra days between appearances and is leaving open the spot until the pitcher's readiness is determined.
"I don't think it'll be a problem," said Ballard, who complained of stiffness in the area after losing, 5-1, to the Seattle Mariners on Saturday. "It's right over the heart. It hurts to sneeze or cough, but it doesn't bother me otherwise."
Ballard was hurt on the last day in Oakland when a ball hit by Tim Hulett during batting practice caromed off the protective screen on the mound and hit Ballard as he gathered up baseballs.
"It's been stiff each time he pitched since then," said Oates. "But he was throwing in the outfield [yesterday]."
"Sunday and Monday it was really sore," said Ballard. "But X-rays showed nothing wrong with the muscle. It's just a bad bruise.
"I threw pretty well early in my last start, but it started getting worse. It really started to affect my pitches."
Ballard threw catch yesterday and will pitch off the mound today, when a final decision will be made. "I'm lucky," he said. "It could have been a lot worse."
If Ballard can't go, Oates said no one will be taken out of the bullpen to pitch. That seems to open the door for Dave Johnson, who is eager to be reactivated.
"It's a possibility," said the manager.
Melvin a Marlins candidate?
The Miami Herald quoted National League sources saying that Doug Melvin, Orioles assistant general manager for player personnel, is on a list of candidates for general manager of the expansion Florida Marlins.
But Orioles general manager Roland Hemond said yesterday that he has not "heard anything other than what's in the newspapers.
"They have to call for permission, and they haven't done that," said Hemond. "Certainly, they don't have to rush if they're not starting until 1993."
Melvin was in London, Ontario, with the Hagerstown Suns and unavailable for comment.
The Herald said Marlins president Carl Barger has five other names on the list: Dan Duquette of the Montreal Expos, Gord Ash of the Toronto Blue Jays, Bill Lajoie of the Atlanta Braves, Walt Jocketty of the Athletics and Lee Thomas of the Philadelphia Phillies.
Davis swinging well
Glenn Davis took batting practice again yesterday.
"He was up on top of the ball and looks better now than two weeks ago," Oates said. "He was hitting very well."
Oates dropped slumping Leo Gomez to the eighth spot in the order last night. "David Segui is hitting very well right-handed and [Chris] Hoiles is 3-for-4 against [Chuck] Finley with a homer," Oates said. "So we just took Leo down." Gomez doubled in his first at-bat. . . . Bill Ripken engaged in a light workout yesterday. "He threw a little bit," said Oates. "These rib cage things can take a long time." . . . Hemond said nothing is active on the trade front. "It doesn't look that way right now."