WEEKEND: With Mussina on board, Orioles are hoping future has arrived

August 02, 1991|By Jim Henneman | Jim Henneman,Evening Sun Staff

CHICAGO -- They haven't been able to establish a No. 1 starter all year, but this weekend the Orioles will unveil their new Big Three.

Ben McDonald, Bob Milacki and Mike Mussina are the scheduled pitchers against the White Sox. The Orioles would like nothing better than to have the three righthanders give an indication they can establish themselves as the cornerstone of a starting rotation.

The weekend will present some interesting contrasts. McDonald and Mussina were the No. 1 draft choices for the Orioles the last two years, but they took different routes to the situation they face this weekend.

Except for an early indoctrination period and three rehabilitation assignments, McDonald has gotten his training on the job. Mussina, on the other hand, pitched in both Double A and Triple A last year before posting a 10-4 record prior to his recall from Rochester this week.

"He impressed me as a quiet and very mature kid, both personally and professionally," Orioles manager John Oates said of his spring training observation of Mussina.

Initially the Orioles intended to keep Mussina in the minors until Rochester completed its season. But he won eight of his last nine decisions and, with their rotation in a shambles, it wasn't hard for the Orioles to get a jump start on next year.

Before the year is over Mussina will be joined by Arthur Rhodes, the team's other premier pitching prospect.

In tonight's game (8:05), McDonald (4-5, 5.73) will face Alex Fernandez (5-7, 5.24). Milacki (6-5, 4.22) goes against Jack McDowell (13-5, 3.08) tomorrow (7:05), with Mussina making his debut against ageless veteran Charlie Hough (6-6, 3.59) Sunday afternoon. Channel 2 will carry all three games.

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