Hendricks: Mussina was just warming to the task O's coach takes blame for All-Star Game flap

July 16, 1993|By Milton Kent | Milton Kent,Staff Writer

The cast of characters in the drama starring Orioles pitcher Mike Mussina and Toronto Blue Jays manager Cito Gaston grew yesterday, when Orioles coach Elrod Hendricks provided an alibi for both.

Hendricks, a former Orioles catcher and longtime bullpen coach, absolved Gaston and Mussina of blame for their conduct at the end of Tuesday's All-Star Game.

"It's unfair to the kid [Mussina] and to Cito that this is going on like this," said Hendricks, who was on duty in the American League bullpen.

Hendricks said Mussina did not begin warming on his own, but started throwing at his instruction in the bottom of the eighth and into the ninth.

Hendricks also backed up Gaston's contention that he had not planned to use Mussina unless the game went to extra innings. Mussina declined to comment yesterday.

"Unfortunately for Cito and the kid, I put them both in an embarrassing situation," said Hendricks. "I didn't know this was such a big deal until somebody showed me the paper [yesterday]."

Mussina had not pitched since the previous Wednesday in Kansas City, Mo., and Hendricks said he wanted the right-hander to get in some work in the bullpen.

"Baseball people know that this is when the starter gets in his work. He did not get up to show up Cito," said Hendricks.

Hendricks said Mussina had asked him as early as the fifth inning of the game, won by the American League, 9-3, about throwing, but Hendricks said he told him to wait until the eighth.

Likewise, Hendricks said he knew that Gaston had not planned for Mussina or Pat Hentgen, a Blue Jays starter, to pitch unless the game dictated it.

He said Gaston had Mussina and Hentgen at the bottom of a list of potential pitchers for Tuesday, and had planned for Toronto closer Duane Ward to finish the game.

The Baltimore crowd booed Gaston and the seven Blue Jays selected to the team when they were introduced.

And when Mussina's picture was flashed on the JumboTron screen in the ninth as Ward pitched, the crowd's boos grew more intense and fans chanted, "We want Mike," in the hope that Gaston would let Mussina record the last out.

"What was one-third of an inning going to prove?" said Hendricks.

Orioles manager Johnny Oates, the American League's first-basecoach, said he thought Gaston was going to use Mussina, because, by his understanding, Gaston told him that he was going to use Mussina last or at the end.

"I wish I had a tape so I could tell you exactly what he said, but I thought Mike was going to get in. I was disappointed," said Oates.

Oates said he wondered as the evening wore on when Mussina would get in, and figured that he would enter the game once he saw him warming up in the eighth.

"I said to Mike, 'Did you have any idea this was going to happen?' And Mike said, 'Pretty much so,' " said Oates.

Oates said he "took exception" to the notion that Mussina was trying to embarrass Gaston by warming up without instruction from the manager.

"He did what any major-league pitcher is supposed to do," said Oates. "There was no premeditation or intention of him showing Cito up."

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