BRADENTON, Fla. -- The winter chill that has descended on the Gulf Coast could not keep Mike Mussina from making the most of his second Grapefruit League start.
He pitched three innings yesterday in the Orioles' 3-2 extra-inning loss to the Pittsburgh Pirates at McKechnie Field, and has yet to give up a hit in exhibition play.
But to hear Mussina tell it, yesterday's performance did not bear any resemblance to the two perfect innings he pitched against the Toronto Blue Jays in his 1992 spring debut Sunday.
"It felt like I was back in P.A. throwing the first game of the season," said Mussina, who grew up in Pennsylvania. "As comfortable as I felt on the mound the other day, that's how uncomfortable I felt out there today."
Mussina is something of a perfectionist. He had just come back from a hitless performance, and he was not at all happy with the way he threw the ball. He walked two of the first three batters he faced, but settled down to retire his last eight hitters in succession.
The unseasonably cool temperature may well have contributed to his early wildness. It may also have contributed to his early exit. The Orioles are sensitive to the weather because right-hander Ben McDonald injured himself under similar conditions a year ago.
"I was quite aware of that," Mussina said. "In my younger days, I wouldn't have been as cautious as I am today. I thought about that."
That did not keep him from throwing hard. He rebounded from back-to-back walks in the first inning by striking out Orlando Merced and Dave Clark to get out of trouble. He added another strikeout later to run his spring total to six in five innings.
Manager John Oates has to be satisfied with all the pitchers who have started in exhibition play. The rotation has combined for a 1.00 ERA through the first seven games.