John Oates doesn't know if he'll be back next year as Baltimore Orioles manager, but he does know that there will be some changes in the club's spring training regimen if he can help it.
"There will be a lot more time spent on base-running," Oates said. "I've told Cal [Ripken] Sr. that this club could spend one whole week on base-running in spring training. One hour, one day a week doesn't get it."
Oates was not being critical of Ripken, who handled the base-running instruction this spring, but he said that there was not enough time to do more than a cursory run-through of various base-running situations.
"Cal has good knowledge of how to run the bases," Oates said, "but we only gave him one hour. That's an area where this club can win some ballgames, but we just don't run the bases very well. Frank [Robinson] went through a period earlier this year when he was afraid to call anything because we were failing to execute."
The answer, according to Oates, might be a special base-running coach to work with the Orioles during spring training. Short of that, the time allotted for base-running instruction will be increased substantially.
"We need to cover all the situations of base-running," he said. "We don't take a primary lead well. We don't take a secondary lead well. We've got guys who, if they dove back to first base, would hit Curt [first base coach Curt Motton] right in the shins."
The Orioles have said nothing about Oates' long-term future, but it seems likely that he will be retained for the 1992 season.
Rookie starter Mike Mussina will face the Chicago White Sox for the second time in six days when he takes the mound tonight for his second major-league start.
Mussina gave up four hits over 7 2/3 innings in his major-league debut Sunday at Comiskey Park. Look for him to come at the White Sox the same way in his Memorial Stadium debut.
"Why make adjustments?" Oates said. "You don't fix the wagon until it's broken. He won't come at them with the same pitch sequence, but if you're getting guys out a certain way, you keep getting them out that way until they start hitting you."
Shortstop Cal Ripken yesterday celebrated the 10th anniversary of the day he was called up from the Class AAA Rochester Red Wings roster in 1981. He made his first appearance in a major-league game two days later, on Aug. 10, pinch running for Ken Singleton.
Jones might start Tuesday
Rookie reliever Stacy Jones might get the starting spot when the Orioles play a rain makeup doubleheader against the Texas Rangers on Tuesday. Jones has made two relief appearances since he was recalled from Rochester, pitching 5 2/3 innings and giving up two runs on four hits.
Rookie outfielder Chito Martinez left Wednesday night's game with a sore hamstring, but he was available to pinch hit last night.
"He still has slight discomfort in the lower tip of the hamstring," Oates said. "He can be used as a pinch hitter, but we'll give him a couple of days off in the outfield."
The Orioles are particularly sensitive to hamstring strains. Third baseman Craig Worthington has been out of action for a couple of months because of one, and the club lost Mike Devereaux for an extended period last year with a similar injury.
Bill Ripken skipped batting practice again last night in the hope that some time off will allow his rib cage strain to heal. "We're going to try to back him off," Oates said. . . . Martinez, who was named International League Player of the Month in June, was honored in pre-game ceremonies.