MINNEAPOLIS -- Mark Williamson says he's two weeks ahead of his rehabilitation schedule, but the right-hander may be more than a month away from rejoining the Orioles.
Williamson, who underwent arthroscopic surgery on his right elbow May 12, accompanied the Orioles here, the first time he has been on the road since his operation.
"I don't have a timetable," said Williamson. "I'm just taking it as it comes. I'd like to get back by the end of the month, but if it doesn't happen, it doesn't happen.
In addition to a daily weight program designed to build up his strength, Williamson has embarked on a regular throwing regimen. Yesterday he threw for 12 minutes with pitching coach Dick Bosman, rested for six minutes, then threw for 15 more minutes.
Williamson hasn't thrown off a mound yet, but expects to before the All-Star break. "I feel like I can do that right now," said Williamson. "I'm ahead of their [the doctors'] schedule. I've been throwing some easy breaking balls and changeups and they don't bother the elbow."
B. Ripken turns ankle
Second baseman Bill Ripken left last night's game in the seventh inning after turning his right ankle during a rundown play an inning earlier.
The initial diagnosis was that Ripken suffered a slight sprain. He was taken to Hennepin Medical Center near the Metrodome, where precautionary X-rays were negative.
However, because of uncertainty caused by swelling, Ripken was due to have more X-rays taken this morning. He probably won't be available for this afternoon's game.
Ripken was injured while running on a hit-and-run play after his one-out single in the sixth inning. When Jeff Tackett took the pitch, Ripken tried to stop after going about one-third the way down the baseline. He stumbled to the ground, and eventually was caught in a rundown. He stayed in the game to play defense in the sixth, then left in favor of pinch hitter Mark McLemore.
Poole not effective
There is no encouraging word yet on left-hander Jim Poole, who completed his rehabilitation assignment and is now on option to Rochester.
Four days after giving up three home runs to left-handed hitters, Poole was charged with three runs Thursday night.
Poole gave up five hits, including another home run, in one inning in his latest outing.
The three home runs Poole allowed last Sunday came on "two hanging sliders and a fastball," Orioles manager Johnny Oates said.
Orsulak earns spot
Oates seemingly has abandoned the platoon system in right field he used earlier in the season, which reduces David Segui to the role of late-inning replacement for Randy Milligan at first base.
"David's hitting .214 against left-handers, Chito [Martinez] is hitting .230 and Joe [Orsulak] is hitting .246," said Oates. Orsulak has become the Orioles' third regular outfielder, along with Mike Devereaux and Brady Anderson.
Orsulak went 3-for-5 last night and drove in a run. He's batting .292 overall.
When Martinez started two straight games on the last homestand, it was to give Orsulak a rest. "We think Joe is a guy who needs a day off now and then," said Oates. "I wanted to give him the day game off [Sunday], then Milwaukee changed pitchers for Monday to a guy [Chris Bosio] he hasn't hit well, so I just decided to give him two days off."
Twins rolling along
The Twins went into the weekend series against the Orioles on a major pitching roll. While winning 13 of their previous 15 games, the pitching staff compiled a team ERA of 1.48.
The starters were 12-2 with a 1.56 ERA while working 109 1/3 innings during that stretch, the relievers 1-0, 1.09, with six saves.
The Milwaukee Brewers' Scott Fletcher on Orioles right-hander Jose Mesa: "He throws hard, but it's very easy to pick up the ball."
Oates' comment: "I appreciate the scouting report. It's something we'll work on with him."