Olson returns from DL, but not in closer's role

Orioles notebook

September 21, 1993|By Peter Schmuck | Peter Schmuck,Staff Writer

CLEVELAND -- Relief pitcher Gregg Olson returned from the disabled list yesterday, but it may be awhile before he returns to his role as Orioles closer.

Olson has been sidelined for nearly six weeks with a slightly torn ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow, so he figures to feel his way around for a while. Manager Johnny Oates likely will wait for a non-critical situation to send him back to the mound.

"I don't know where this is going to go," Oates said. "Mechanically, he's not favoring it [his elbow]. The doctors have told me that he can't hurt it. But don't look for him to be in a save situation soon.

"We're just going to see what happens. He hasn't pitched in a month. It's not easy to throw strikes in that situation. You might feel great working out, but when a hitter gets in there, it's a different situation."

Olson has been working out regularly for the past few weeks. There was a point where it seemed unlikely that he would pitch again until next season, but his past three or four workouts went well enough to convince club officials that he might be able to help during the season's final two weeks.

For now, however, late-inning situations will continue to be handled by Alan Mills, Todd Frohwirth and Jim Poole. Olson likely will show up in mop-up or middle relief until it is clear that he is ready to be the closer.

Devereaux scratched

Center fielder Mike Devereaux was scratched from the starting lineup minutes before game time with a bruised heel. Veteran Lonnie Smith played left field and took his place in the batting order, and Brady Anderson moved from left field to center.

Sutcliffe tonight

Right-hander Rick Sutcliffe will start tonight's game in place of injured Mike Mussina.

Oates had said Sunday that he was "almost" certain Mussina would be shut down with tendinitis in his right shoulder. He made the final decision late Sunday.

"Mike is through until further notice," Oates said. "He may not pitch the rest of the year. There's only 14 days left, anyway. We'll just have to see."

Mussina struggled in each of his past two starts and said after each that he still was hindered by the shoulder soreness that has hindered him for much of the season. He tried to loosen it up in a workout Saturday but experienced enough stiffness to make a start tonight unwise.

Oates on Sutcliffe

It wasn't hard to tell that Sutcliffe had returned from voluntary exile in the bullpen.

"He's chirping," Oates said. "He's a different person. I had to tell him to shut up in the clubhouse, he was so loud today. He didn't like it in the bullpen."

Sutcliffe, like Olson, will be going to the mound cold. Both returned too late in the season to get some innings in the minors, so they can only hope that they throw from the mound the way they did in simulated situations.

Oates was not willing to speculate on what he might get from his big right-hander tonight.

"I don't have any idea what's going to happen," Oates said.

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