Orioles feel for their ace


some say he went too far ALL-STAR GAME July 13 1993 Baltimore

July 15, 1993|By Ken Murray | Ken Murray,Staff Writer Staff writer Peter Schmuck contributed to this article.

More than 16 hours later, Roland Hemond still reveled in the All-Star moment.

Incite the crowd? Inflame the rivalry? Inspire the home team?

Hemond loved Mike Mussina's midnight rally for all those reasons, but the Orioles general manager said he especially appreciated it for its sheer brilliance.

When Mussina popped up in the American League bullpen and began warming up in the ninth inning Tuesday, he afforded AL manager Cito Gaston one last chance at redemption with the seething Baltimore crowd.

That Gaston brushed aside this olive branch may turn out to be a stroke of great fortune for the Orioles as they pursue the Toronto Blue Jays in the AL East.

"I have marveled at Mike's intelligence," Hemond said yesterday. "My respect for his intelligence has been expanded. Now I can understand why he graduated from Stanford with an economics degree in 3 1/2 years."

Hemond was as animated talking about the surreal ending to the 64th All-Star Game, when Gaston was mercilessly booed despite a 9-3 AL victory. Swinging his arms to and fro, Hemond was more than eager to paint Gaston as a villain in this improbable melodrama.

"Why you can't get Mike Mussina in a 9-3 game is beyond me," he said, grinning devilishly. "I don't care what the explanation is. If you say you have to save him for extra innings, you don't have faith in Duane Ward."

That was Gaston's defense in using Ward, his closer in Toronto, to finish off the National League rather than Mussina, the local hero. Gaston wanted to save Mussina in event of extra innings.

Mussina scoffed at the thought again yesterday before a team workout at Camden Yards.

"You can make that excuse," he said, "but it was a 9-3 game."

Mussina didn't buy it, of course, and got up in the bullpen on his own in the ninth inning. That turned the torrent of boos unleashed on Ward into a roaring chant of "We want Mike," which in turn was followed by another hostile round of boos.

The day after, Mussina was unrepentant, although proclaiming his innocence. Regrets, Mike?

"No . . . when do you want me to throw?" he said with a sneer. "I asked Elrod [Hendricks, Orioles coach who was in the bullpen for the All-Star Game] when I should throw, and he said the bottom of the eighth, so we did."

"I did what I had to do to pitch for the next start. I can't get up in the fifth. . . . It's not wise because I can't get up in the fifth and get up [again] in the ninth or 10th."

Mussina originally had been scheduled to pitch Saturday against the Minnesota Twins. Because he didn't pitch Tuesday, he and Rick Sutcliffe have switched starts. Mussina will throw tomorrow. Normally, the Orioles have a pitcher throw on the side three days before a scheduled start.

Mussina said that based on Gaston's pre-game pitchers' meeting, he knew he wouldn't pitch in the game. He also said he knew warming up in the bullpen "would be a problem."

"I didn't stir the fans up," he said. "I was just out there throwing.

"It was amusing at times. They put me on the [JumboTron] screen; that was amusing. That wasn't me stirring it up. Whoever was running the board was stirring it up."

Regardless of who stirred it up, it appears officially stirred. The Orioles were divided on the Gaston-Mussina flap.

"It sure did create a controversy," said coach Davey Lopes. "Here we are, second-guessing the manager in an All-Star Game. It's ridiculous."

Lopes, who called Gaston a "man of tremendous character," made another point.

"There are some who say he [Mussina] shouldn't have been there [in the All-Star Game]," Lopes said, referring to Mussina's 4.10 ERA, highest on the AL staff.

Second baseman Harold Reynolds said he wanted to see Mussina in the game. "But he didn't have to get up and show the man up," he said. "That made it worse.

"If I'm the manager, and I don't ask the guy to get up [in the bullpen] and he gets up . . . are you going to put him in the game [after that]? I think Cito should have gotten him in the game, but Mike should have stayed on the bench.

"He's a competitor," Reynolds said, laughing, "a know-it-all competitor from Stanford. The man went to Stanford, so that explains it all.

"But you can't overlook the issue: Who's the boss in the show -- the manager."

First baseman David Segui echoed Reynolds' sentiments. "I feel a little sorry for Cito because he's going to take a lot of heat for this. I think he [Mussina] should have gotten in, but if he got up on his own, I don't blame Cito. I didn't take it as an insult to the team. I don't think he intended it that way."

Some Orioles read a deeper meaning into Gaston's actions.

"I'm really surprised that he wants to mess with us like that," reliever Jim Poole said. "If he did it intentionally, I think he messed with the wrong person and the wrong team."

Said starter Jamie Moyer: "Mike will probably be at the All-Star Game every year the rest of his career, but when is it going to be in Baltimore again? How many opportunities do you have to play in your own city?"

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