ARLINGTON, TEXAS ROSTER MOVE TODAY — Davis' return is on-the-job warm-up
ARLINGTON, Texas -- Right- hander Storm Davis is scheduled to come off the disabled list and re-enter the starting rotation tonight. But the Orioles cannot take anything for granted when he takes the mound against the Chicago White Sox in the opener of a three-game series at Comiskey Park.
Davis made one start before going on the disabled list with a groin strain. He pitched five strong innings against the Minnesota Twins after moving into the fourth spot in the rotation, but manager Johnny Oates said that Davis faces a bigger challenge tonight, since he has not pitched competitively since then.
"I would think it's going to be tough for him," Oates said. "He's been throwing on the side and in batting practice, but he hasn't been in a competitive situation."
Davis was pitching regularly out of the bullpen when he was called upon the first time. The club would love to get five solid innings from him again tonight, but it is not critical.
The two complete games thrown by Mike Mussina and Ben McDonald on Friday and Saturday left Oates with a fresh bullpen, although they used three relievers last night, including Todd Frohwirth for three innings.
The Orioles will have to make a roster move to make room for Davis, which may not bode well for rookie Richie Lewis. Oates said that he will confer with general manager Roland Hemond today in Chicago before announcing the move.
Lewis seems most vulnerable. He was called up Wednesday to provide depth in the bullpen and stood in reserve for tonight's start in case Davis couldn't pitch.
The only way he stays is if Oates decides to go with an 11-man pitching staff and options a position player.
Flanagan getting comfortable
Left-hander Mike Flanagan said before last night's game that he is starting to feel more comfortable on the mound, and he won't discount the arrival of left-hander Pat Clements as a significant factor in the change of mind-set.
"I finally feel like I'm locking into something," he said. "It's almost a mental freeing up, having another left-hander out there."
But Flanagan said that he was beginning to feel better even before the move.
"Things wouldn't have been so bad if it wasn't for that Detroit/Cleveland fiasco. Things really got out of hand. It wasn't great before that, but that about doubled things."
Flanagan had a 4.11 ERA before he gave up 10 runs in two brief appearances in Detroit. He went on to give up 13 earned runs in 1 2/3 innings over six appearances, raising his ERA to a season-high 10.38. Since then, he has given up one earned run over 4 2/3 innings (three appearances).
First baseman Randy Milligan entered last night's game with a .184 average in the 26 games since he hit a ninth-inning, game-winning home run against the Cleveland Indians June 15, but his on-base percentage over that span was a respectable .365. The reason -- he walked 25 times in those 26 games.
Last night, Milligan continued to slump, going 0-for-5 to drop his average to .249. His average stood at .291 the day of that big home run.
"It comes and goes," Milligan said. "You've just got to keep swinging and it will come. I hate using those tired one-liners, but that's the way it is."
If anyone was wondering, the last time the Orioles had three consecutive complete games was July 27-29, when Davis and Scott McGregor went the distance against Chicago and Mike Boddicker went nine against the Toronto Blue Jays. . . . Yesterday was the 18th anniversary of pitching coach Dick Bosman's no-hitter. He threw it against the A's, losing a bid for a perfect game on his throwing error.