SEATTLE -- Left-hander Mike Flanagan might look good in a New York Mets uniform, but he's right where he wants to be at this point in his career.
Rumors have been circulating that some contending teams have expressed interest in Flanagan, who has come back from a 1990 arm problem to pitch effectively out of the Baltimore Orioles bullpen. But he says he would rather pitch in the final game at Memorial Stadium than pitch in the playoffs for some other club.
"That would be a real honor," Flanagan said. "It's to the point where I've had a pretty decent year here. I'd like to pitch in the last game. Pitching the last inning in that ballpark would mean a lot to me."
It would be an appropriate way to close out 37 years at the 33rd Street facility. Flanagan has played a starring role in the club's proud pitching tradition. He would like to be part of a pitching renaissance, but he has heard the whispers, too.
"I haven't heard anything first-hand," he said, "just what I've read in the papers. This time of year, contending teams are going to look for help. I can't really control it, or do anything about it. If I had my way, I'd stay around for the remainder of the season."
He will become a free agent again in November, so it is not out of the realm of possibility that he could be traded to a contender for the stretch drive and be back in time to start the 1992 season. The Orioles got Jose Mesa and Oswaldo Peraza when they traded Flanagan to the Toronto Blue Jays in 1987. It could happen again.
"I don't really know what the situation is," Flanagan said. "Maybe they're thinking, 'If we trade him, he can become a free agent and we might get him back,' but that kind of scenario doesn't always play out. If a team gives something up for you, they're not going to want to give you up right away."
Milacki hears rumors, too
There also has been trade speculation involving right-hander Bob Milacki, who was rumored to be headed for the California Angels' starting rotation.
He could do worse. The Angels train in Arizona, only a few hours drive from his Lake Havasu home. But Milacki also appears to be happy right where he is.
"I'd hate to leave Baltimore," he said. "The fans are great. I've made a lot of friends on this team. Every player would like to play near home, but I like Baltimore."
The bullpen has grown on Flanagan, who entered last night's game with an impressive 2.18 ERA in 42 relief appearances.
"I don't know what the normal workload is for a relief pitcher," he said, "but I can't remember my arm feeling this good at this point in the season."
He has been the most consistent pitcher in the bullpen, holding opposing hitters to a .230 average and surrendering just three home runs in 70 1/3 innings.
"Johnny [manager John Oates] has shown respect for me. He has brought me into games against right-handed hitters," Flanagan said. "It's not just a left-handed spot role. It's a true set-up role. I'm enjoying it."