The Orioles may not be finished with making changes on their beleaguered pitching staff after Storm Davis was thrust into the starting rotation last night. Manager Johnny Oates conferred with his coaching staff before last night's game about the possibilities, then began to invoke them after another poor start by Bob Milacki.
"We talked about more than the weather," Oates said of the meeting.
"There is still a question about the other start [next Tuesday]," he said, meaning both Milacki and Jose Mesa remain candidates to make it. "This way will continue until we have to make a move to get better." Oates envisions "Alan [Mills] taking on a new role, not necessarily as a starter." The could project Mills into Davis' former role as the long man-middleman.
The plans apparently do not include the promotion of Arthur Rhodes from Triple-A Rochester, but could include Richie Lewis, a starter for the Red Wings with a 7-5 record, 3.36 ERA and 90 strikeouts in 96 1/3 innings.
"I'd love to win in '92," Oates said. "But we won't sacrifice ourselves for '93 and '94 to win now."
Jim Poole has been making strides in his recovery from tendinitis, but on Sunday allowed three homers to left-handed hitters in 1 2/3 innings.
Oates said it would take "some consistency" for Poole to return to the majors. "Physically, he's fine. No problems with his arm or elbow."
Oates has faith in Flanagan
The manager says Mike Flanagan can correct his problems while staying with the Orioles.
In his past six appearances, 21 of 25 batters to face Flanagan have reached base, and he has a 70.20 ERA during that period.
"I still believe we can work this out here," Oates said. "We got him at 86 [mph] Sunday. That shows he has his arm strength.
"What he's doing is missing with a breaking ball, then throwing one for a strike rather than throwing a good one."
"Sometimes, these things are hard to figure out," Flanagan said. "Yesterday [Sunday], it was three ground balls, three hits. The location has probably been the biggest problem."
Flanagan said he still hasn't made the adjustment to being the only left-hander in the bullpen and the resultant shortage of work.
"It's been difficult for me to stay sharp," Flanagan said. "This is still a learning process. I don't really know the routine for that role."
He is throwing more often in the bullpen, but appearing for less time in games.
"Basically, what I need is to get some people out, that's all," he said. "The rest will take care of itself. There would be an upward spiral instead of a downward one.
"I realize Johnny's problem. He knows I need the work, but he doesn't want me to go two innings because he may need an out from me the next day. At least I know my problems are not from lack of effort."
Williamson not close to return
Mark Williamson was soft-tossing in the outfield yesterday, but Oates said he is a long way from returning to active duty.
"Too far away to put a number on," said the manager. "He's playing short toss with the trainer and he'll go out to about 60 feet. That's about all he can do now."
Bill Wegman, the Brewers' scheduled starter tomorrow, has not been with the team because of the death of his grandfather. But he still is listed as the probable pitcher. . . . The Orioles are striving to become only the 10th team to be 10 or more games over .500 at the All-Star break after having lost 90 or more games the preceding season. They did it in 1989 when they were 48-37 at the break after losing 107 games in 1988.