The strained back muscle that forced Chris Hoiles out of Monday night's game could keep him on the sidelines the rest of the week. "I'd say it will be at least a couple of days, and could be five or six," said Orioles manager Johnny Oates.
"He could finish off a game in an emergency, but to do all the things he'd have to do in a full game will take a little time."
Trainer Richie Bancells said that Hoiles was better yesterday than expected, but couldn't predict when he might return.
"It's mostly stiffness right now, but it's still day-to-day," said Bancells.
The uncertainly over Hoiles' status this week prompted the Orioles to call up Mark Parent from their Triple-A Rochester team, and option reserve outfielder Damon Buford to the Red Wings.
Valenzuela gets AL award
Fernando Valenzuela's comeback picked up a noted exclamation point yesterday. The veteran left-hander was named American League Pitcher of the Month.
In five starts during July, Valenzuela compiled a 3-0 record with a 1.56 ERA. It is the fourth time he has been Pitcher of the Month, but the first time in eight years.
Valenzuela won the award in the National League in April 1981 and April and July 1985, while with the Dodgers. He is the 10th Oriolespitcher to be honored, the first since Jeff Ballard was cited in April 1989.
A free agent only the Orioles wanted last spring, Valenzuela has started 20 games and pitched 131 2/3 innings. His overall record is 6-7, with a 3.62 ERA.
Manager Johnny Oates said he didn't expect Mike Mussina to make his next start in the big leagues for two weeks. "Anything other than that would be unrealistic [to expect]," said Oates. "I'd rather be three days late than one day early."
Mussina is scheduled to work on the side again today. "We'll stretch him out to about half or three-quarters [speed]," said pitching coach Dick Bosman. "If everything goes right then we'll step him up a notch Friday and then look to get him in a game at Memorial Stadium Monday or Tuesday."
Oates indicated that Mussina probably would make two rehabilitation starts for the Double-A Bowie Baysox, who are at home at Memorial Stadium next week.
"I'm thinking two starts [for Bowie] right now," said Oates. "Anything earlier than that would be a bonus."
If Mussina makes two rehabilitation starts, his next appearance for the Orioles most likely would come during a three-game series in Seattle, Aug. 16-18, or not until the Orioles face Texas at home Aug. 20.
Outfielder Jeffrey Hammonds underwent a magnetic resonance imaging exam yesterday that indicated he might have a small herniated disk in the neck area. "That explains why he has been having spasms," said general manager Roland Hemond.
Although Hammonds has missed a lot of playing time this year, both in the minor leagues and since his promotion to the Orioles June 25, there apparently is no immediate thought of putting him the disabled list at this time. "It's the type of thing where he can continue to play while getting treatment," said Hemond.
Hammonds has started only once in the past four days.