Oates probably won't get Mussina an extra start
Manager Johnny Oates is leaving his options open, but he said yesterday that he probably won't alter his rotation to get an extra start for streaking pitcher Mike Mussina.
The way the rotation is laid out, Mussina will make two more starts this season. He would get an extra start and a shot at a 20-victory season if he pitches on three days' rest a couple of times, but Oates is hesitant to do anything that could endanger one of the best young arms in baseball.
The division race doesn't figure to reach the point where the team would get a tangible benefit from an extra start by Mussina, making its importance solely a personal one.
"Probably not," Oates said when asked about an extra start for Mussina. "I'll address that later, but whether he is at 19 games or not, I'm not going to risk hurting him. I'm fairly confident that he'll win 20 games [in a season] sometime in his career."
Mussina pitched his eighth complete game Monday night to defeat the Milwaukee Brewers and record his 17th victory. He ranks among the league leaders in a number of important statistical categories, but he has not been mentioned prominently as a candidate for the Cy Young Award. That rankles Oates, who has watched Mussina dominate American League hitters all season.
"I saw one show where they were talking about the major candidates, and his name wasn't even mentioned," Oates said.
His seven-hit performance Monday night dropped his ERA to 2.53, third in the league. He also ranks third in winning percentage (.773), fifth in victories (17), second in shutouts (five), fifth in complete games (eight) and fifth in opponents' batting average (.236).
"I think it's about time to consider him," Oates said. "I think if yo wrote out a list of every starter and factored in everything, he would be right there."
Storm: No surgery likely
Three months ago, it seemed almost certain that right-hander Storm Davis would undergo off-season surgery to remove a bone spur from his heel, but circumstances have changed.
"I've had two opinions, and it doesn't look like it is going to be necessary," Davis said. "They told me that it would be pretty heavy surgery. They would have to reroute some things and move some things around to get to the spur and the rehabilitation time would be six months."
Davis says the spur no longer is a serious impediment to his performance, but he still has to deal with the arch soreness that forced him out of the rotation earlier this year.
"I know now that I can handle it," he said. "I've thrown four or five innings in relief and it has been no problem. I went to Johnny and asked him if I could help more out of the bullpen and he thought I could. Starting just never came up again."
The Orioles will have to decide whether they want to keep Davis next year. His contract expires at the end of the season, but he is not eligible for free agency. He said he hopes
the club offers him a contract or salary arbitration.
"I hope they do," he said. "If not, we'll go another direction. I'd like to come back, but that will be their decision."
Will Flanagan be back?
The Orioles hold an option on Mike Flanagan for 1993, but he has not said yet whether he wants to pitch next year. He has struggled through a difficult season in the bullpen, but figures to be offered a chance to compete for a job next spring.
"We'll let the season end and go from there," Flanagan said. "It's not the time or the place to talk about that. That's a personal thing. It would be selfish to think about that now. We'll evaluate at the end of the season."
Oates is hesitant to talk about his wishes for the future, and it isn't just because he has some pressing business at hand. The future of baseball is just too clouded to consider the possibilities.
"This off-season is going to be different from any off-season we've ever had," Oates said. "With the expansion draft, I don't even know who we're going to have, so I couldn't even start to make a Christmas list. Who knows what next year is going to bring? Who even knows if there is going to be baseball next year?"