Sitting out now, not later, appeals to Sutcliffe Accepts suspension

to miss start Sunday

June 17, 1993|By Peter Schmuck | Peter Schmuck,Staff Writer

NILWAUKEE — MILWAUKEE -- Right-hander Rick Sutcliffe was saying just the other day that he can't wait to get back to the mound after each start, but he'll have to wait a little longer this time around.

The Orioles announced yesterday that the veteran right-hander had dropped his appeal of the five-game suspension and $1,000 fine he received for his role in the lengthy June 6 brawl with the Seattle Mariners.

The suspension went into effect yesterday, so Sutcliffe will not be eligible to pitch until Wednesday. He was scheduled to start the road-trip finale against the Cleveland Indians on Sunday, but will move back and pitch against the Detroit Tigers on Wednesday at Camden Yards.

"Rick just wanted to do what was best for the club," manager Johnny Oates said. "He wanted to get it out of the way. I said: 'That's fine. Let's go ahead and do it.' "

Sutcliffe was one of three Orioles suspended and fined by American League president Bobby Brown for their actions in the 20-minute melee with the Mariners at Oriole Park.

First baseman David Segui was suspended for three games and relief pitcher Alan Mills was suspended for four. Segui's suspension was scheduled to begin last Friday, but he appealed it and remained in the starting lineup. Mills appealed his suspension -- which was scheduled to take effect next Tuesday -- but could still drop his appeal and allow the disciplinary action to take effect.

Oates was careful to frame the Sutcliffe decision in terms that would not make it look like he was manipulating Brown's disciplinary action, but there probably is some strategy involved in letting the suspension go into effect.

"Johnny and I talked yesterday," Sutcliffe said. "He said, 'I respect your right to appeal if you feel that's what you want to do.' But he told me it might be best for the club if I served it now."

If Sutcliffe delayed dropping the appeal to a later date, the league office would determine what date he would begin the suspension. If he had decided to take the appeal process to the limit, the club would have faced the unhappy possibility of losing all three players in August -- perhaps at a pivotal juncture in the American League East race.

"In August, we might be in the middle of it," Sutcliffe said. "That might not be good timing."

This way, he will get a few extra days of rest at a time when he probably can use it, though no one would say that had anything to do with the timing of the decision.

"Actually, it couldn't come at a worse time for me personally," said Sutcliffe, who has won his past five decisions.

"We've won a lot of games that I've pitched in lately. It seems like if I give up two runs, we score three and if I give up five runs, we score six. We've won 12 out of the last 13 games. I'd rather pitch on less rest right now than more."

Oates also tried to dismiss the notion that the appeal was waived because the timing would be more advantageous for Sutcliffe and the team.

"When you've got your second-biggest winner missing a start, it's never convenient," Oates said.

"There is no good time because you want him to go out there every fifth day. It's just part of the process. You might as well go out and get it done."

Of course, it is never that simple. The decision was made easier by the performance of left-hander Jamie Moyer on Tuesday night. Moyer probably would have lost a start because of the off days today and Monday, but he has given up only one earned run in each of his past three starts and he threw particularly well in Tuesday night's victory over the Milwaukee Brewers.

Moyer now will get to pitch on normal rest and the Orioles will be in a position to throw three straight right-handers in the three-game series against the Detroit Tigers at Camden Yards next week. Mike Mussina, Sutcliffe and Ben McDonald now are scheduled to take the mound against the hot-hitting division leaders.

Sutcliffe can work out with the club but cannot be in uniform during games. He will pitch a simulated game Friday and throw on the side Sunday to get on schedule for Wednesday's start against the Tigers.

It is not inconceivable that the Orioles will drop Mills' appeal next week.

Mills was very prominent in the videotapes that Brown reviewed before levying the suspensions and fines, so his chances of a successful appeal are extremely poor. If the Orioles need Mills for an extended outing on Sunday, he could drop the appeal on Tuesday and serve the suspension.

Segui, however, seems likely to take his case to a hearing, because he was dismayed at being singled out for punishment in a brawl that involved dozens of players.

Four members of the Mariners also were suspended and fined $1,000. Pitcher Chris Bosio was suspended for five games, reliever Norm Charlton was suspended for four games and everyday players Bill Haselman and Mackey Sasser were suspended for three games.

All have appealed.

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