Anderson out, Mussina may be Chickenpox hits outfielder

tendinitis pains pitcher

June 24, 1993|By Peter Schmuck | Peter Schmuck,The Orioles NOT LIKE MIKE Staff Writer

The Orioles barely had time to savor Tuesday night's electrifying comeback victory before the bad news started rolling in. The club announced yesterday that outfielder Brady Anderson had contracted the chickenpox and right-hander Mike Mussina is suffering from biceps tendinitis in his pitching arm.

Anderson was sent home Tuesday night and told not to return to the ballpark for at least three days. He will be re-evaluated tomorrow, but could be lost for as much as a week.

Mussina, whose physical condition came into question after he lasted just 1 2/3 innings in the series opener against the Detroit Tigers, told club officials he has experienced increasing shoulder stiffness since his 14-strikeout performance against the Tigers May 16. He still is scheduled to start Sunday against the New York Yankees, but that is subject to change.

"We had Mike see the doctor today," manager Johnny Oates said. "In discussions with Mike, Dr. [Charles] Silberstein diagnosed the problem as a mild case of biceps tendinitis. Mike said that it possibly dated back to the 14- strikeout game. The next day, he felt some discomfort that he hadn't had before."

Mussina threw 141 pitches in that game, the most he has ever thrown in a major-league start. He struggled in his next start, but came back to pitch three very strong games before his performance began to decline. He has a 1-1 record and a 10.05 ERA in his last three starts, dating back to the big brawl against the Seattle Mariners on June 6 at Camden Yards, but club officials don't see any connection between his statistical downturn and Mariners catcher Bill Haselman's takedown on the mound.

"It is a mild case of tendinitis that is not allowing him to make his pitches command-wise," Oates said. "We're going to wait a couple of days and see how he feels. The doctors didn't even think it was serious enough to take any X-rays or MRIs."

Mussina doesn't even feel that it is serious enough to consider missing a start, but it may not be entirely up to him.

Oates could see how fresh Rick Sutcliffe looked last night after missing a start due to his five-game suspension, so there's a chance the manager might take the precaution of holding his young ace back regardless of how Mussina's arm rebounds the next few days.

"I'm not really concerned about it," Mussina said. "It really doesn't even bother me. But when it has been sore, it throws off everything else that I do. My motion is off. I have to correct that to throw better and have better velocity.

"I was stiff warming up yesterday, but I felt better today. I was encouraged today."

Still, the club will handle Mussina very carefully now that a problem has been identified. Today would be his throwing day, but his activities figure to be restricted while the club's medical .. staff tries to get a better read on his condition.

If Mussina has to be scratched Sunday, it will be the first start he has missed since he was forced out of action for a week last year with a stomach virus. The only other time he has been sidelined during his pro career was during the first half of the 1991 season at Triple-A Rochester, when an inflamed bursa sac behind his left shoulder forced him to reduce his workload temporarily.

The Orioles cannot relish the thought of losing their top starter for even one game, but Oates already is preparing for that eventuality.

"I don't know what's going to happen," Oates said, "but if he has tomiss a start, better to miss one game now than to miss a month later."

Mussina apparently had kept the problem quiet for weeks. Oates said there had been no indication of any unusual soreness on the medical treatment sheets the trainers fill out after every game. Mussina still was denying that he was hurt after a rocky performance Tuesday that was the shortest of his career.

"My mechanics are a little fouled up right now," he said Tuesday night. "I don't have a lot of zip. As far as I know, I'm OK. I don't feel too bad. Fortunately, I didn't get hurt in that fight. I could have gotten hurt bad. Fortunately, it's just something mechanically I have to work out."

The Orioles held a team meeting an hour before gametime to brief the players on the implications of Anderson's illness. He was diagnosed with the chickenpox Tuesday night and told to stay away from his teammates until there was no chance of infecting anyone else.

"It has been going around among the kids [of the players and staff] on the team," Oates said. "I've heard that [trainer] Jamie Reed's kids have it and [assistant GM] Doug Melvin's, and I've heard rumors that there are others."

It's just another tough break for Anderson, who weathered a lengthy bout with the flu earlier this season and has been playing on a pair of sore knees for the past several weeks. He had only recently begun to swing the bat the way he did during his breakthrough 1992 season.

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