Oates puts Mills on hold, calls Davis, Williamson
The temporary absence of Alan Mills from the Orioles bullpen is forcing manager Johnny Oates to do a little shuffling.
Mills, who, with Todd Frohwirth, is being counted on for middlrelief to bridge the gap between the starter and closer Gregg Olson, has an irritation in his right elbow.
Oates said yesterday that Mills, who last worked two inningSunday against the Milwaukee Brewers, had undergone a magnetic resonance imaging, which, in Oates' words, was "clean."
Nonetheless, Oates will rest Mills for the next couple of days as a precaution.
Mills' ailment has moved Storm Davis and likely Mark Williamson into the mix.
Davis, who removed himself from Saturday's 5-0 loss to Milwaukee with a flare-up of cramps in his right side, pitched three strong innings last night.
Williamson, meanwhile, has pitched twice since he was reactivated from a nearly season-long stay on the disabled list, giving up two hits in one inning.
"He's been out there a couple of times, and he's thrown the ball fine for us," Oates said.
Almost in the record book
Storm Davis nearly became a part of major-league history in last night's game, when he struck out three batters in the 14th, but didn't immediately get out of the inning.
Davis struck out Kevin Koslofski, Terry Shumpert and Gregg Jefferies, but Chris Hoiles was charged with a passed ball on the third strike to Jefferies, who reached first.
After a wild pitch and an intentional walk to Wally Joyner, Davis got two strikes on Brent Mayne, to threaten to become the 23rd pitcher in baseball history and the first Oriole since Mike Cuellar on May 29, 1970, to strike out four batters in an inning.
But Mayne grounded into a force play to end the inning.
Getting ready for Milwaukee
Oates has decided to bring back Rick Sutcliffe, who won, 2-1, Monday night, on three days' rest to start the opener of a four-game series in Milwaukee this weekend.
The move will push back Ben McDonald one day from his turn in the rotation.
The rest of the matchups for the Milwaukee series have McDonald meeting Chris Bosio on Saturday, Craig Lefferts against Ricky Bones on Sunday and Mike Mussina against Bill Wegman on Monday.
Sutcliffe's agent, Barry Axelrod, said the Orioles have expressed an interest in bringing back the team's leading winner for next season.
"Rick has expressed a desire to come back, and they [the Orioles] have expressed a desire to have him back," Axelrod said.
Axelrod said conversations between the sides have taken place, but that more serious negotiations will begin after the season.
The Orioles probably will gamble that Sutcliffe will not sign with another club before the Nov. 17 expansion draft and leave him off the club's list of protected players, because free agents do not have to be protected.
Thank you, Joe Table
The Orioles' trade of Jose Mesa to the Cleveland Indians in July is apparently still paying dividends.
Mesa, who got the nickname "Joe Table" on a literal translatioof his name from Spanish, beat Toronto, 2-1, Monday to move the Orioles four games off the pace.
"We might have to consider that when we vote for [playoff] shares. He helped us," Sutcliffe said.