ARLINGTON, Texas -- Orioles catcher Chris Hoiles has taken another step forward in his recovery from a fractured wrist, throwing yesterday for the first time since he went on the disabled list nearly four weeks ago.
Hoiles also swung a broomstick to simulate the mechanics of hitting without bearing the weight of a bat.
"I think I'm a little ahead of schedule," he said. "This is going to be a big test as far as how it feels tomorrow."
He reported no pain during 12 minutes of long toss yesterday afternoon, but said that he did feel some soreness when he swung the broomstick. That apparently is to be expected, since swinging requires more of a twisting motion than throwing.
"He's really progressing," trainer Richie Bancells said. "He'll swing a broomstick for awhile, then move up to a fungo, then to a regular bat, then hit off the tee and in the cage. How he feels will determine how quickly he moves from step to step."
Hoiles is understandably anxious to move the process along. He has been out of the Orioles lineup for nearly a month, watching helplessly as the club's early-season momentum seemed to dissipate. But he doesn't tie that to his departure from the starting lineup.
"I wouldn't say that at all," he said. "Jeff has done a great job filling in. He has thrown people out, he has hit the ball and he has handled the pitching staff very well. I don't think the club has lost that much at all, if anything.
"You've got to give him credit. He has done a great job, but it has been frustrating. You want to be able to drive some runs in and help. It's tough to watch."
There is no timetable for his return, but the club might have a better idea after he undergoes a new set of X-rays next week in Baltimore.
Storm Davis on schedule
Right-hander Storm Davis threw on the side on Friday and remains right on schedule to return to the rotation tomorrow. He'll go to Chicago ahead of the team today to make sure he is rested and ready to start the opener of a three-game series against the White Sox at Comiskey Park.
Left-hander Pat Clements hasn't had to worry about being overworked lately. Going into last night's game, he had pitched just 2 1/3 innings over the past five weeks. He made just two brief appearances in his final three weeks with the San Diego Padres, then pitched in one game for the Orioles before the All-Star break.
Look for his work schedule to increase dramatically over the next few weeks, which could impact the routine of veteran teammate Mike Flanagan.
"I'm going to flip-flop them," Oates said. "The biggest factor will be how much time do I have to get them ready. If I know that I will need a left-hander to face [Rafael] Palmeiro in the next inning, I probably will go with Flanny because he has some good numbers against him. But if I need someone to be ready in two batters, I'll go with Clements, because he can get ready very quickly -- like [Todd] Frohwirth."
Right-hander Mike Mussina drew some tremendous compliments from the Texas Rangers after his one-hit performance on Friday night.
Rangers manager Toby Harrah and outfielder Kevin Reimer both said Mussina was able to set hitters up for the fastball, then throw it just enough up and out of the strike zone to make it tempting but unhittable.
"That's the way [Jim] Palmer used to do it," Oates said yesterday. "You'd see the fastball coming and you'd say to yourself, 'I can hit that,' but by the time you got around it was gone."