Mills misses exhibition start vs. Braves with sore back


April 02, 1994|By Tom Keegan | Tom Keegan,Sun Staff Writer

ATLANTA -- Right-handed reliever Alan Mills revealed he has been bothered by a sore back for more than a week. It caused him to be scratched from his scheduled start yesterday at Atlanta Fulton County Stadium.

Mills has made three appearances since March 23, the day he said he first felt pain in his back.

"I could have pitched, but I just didn't want to aggravate it enough that it would put me out for the season [opener]," said Mills, who was going to replace scratched Ben McDonald (tender elbow) for the Atlanta game.

Mills is scheduled to pitch one inning in today's exhibition game at Camden Yards against Philadelphia.

"I'm not sure if I will be able to or not," he said. "I threw today and it felt a lot better. It's a lot better than it was a few days ago. It was painful to breathe there for a little bit."

Mills said he first encountered back troubles March 23 while warming up for an appearance in Sarasota, Fla.

"It felt like something pulled in my back," Mills said. "Once I got in the game and got my adrenaline going, I didn't feel anything."

Mills said he felt more pain last weekend.

Mills aggravated his back while packing for the move north, Orioles manager Johnny Oates said. Mills came in for treatment Tuesday and Wednesday but did not miss any scheduled appearances until yesterday.

In three appearances since he said he first felt back discomfort, Mills has pitched six innings without allowing an earned run.

Staff meeting today

The Orioles will hold a staff meeting this morning at Camden Yards to discuss the final two roster cuts.

The decisions will be announced either after today's exhibition or tomorrow, said general manager Roland Hemond.

Right-handers Mark Williamson and Mike Oquist are the survivors in the competition for the 10th spot on the pitching staff.

A decision that figures to trigger even more discussion involves the final spot on the bench.

Oates wants outfielder Damon Buford's speed and glove, but some in the organization, including assistant general manager Frank Robinson, believe it would be better for Buford's development if he played every day at Triple-A Rochester.

"I've been very pleased with the input I've had here," Oates said. "The job of the manager is to let the front office know what personnel I want. I'll have my say. We all sit down and talk, and we all have a chance to explain ourselves. The bottom line is we'll try to come to the conclusion of what's best for everybody. Not just what's best for me, or Roland, or Doug [Melvin], or Frank, or even Damon. What's best for everybody."

Buford is hitting .321, Rene Gonzales .255.

Williamson pitched two innings in yesterday's 7-5 loss to Atlanta, did not walk a batter, struck out three and allowed one run, Deion Sanders' home run to right.

In nine spring appearances, Williamson went 1-0 with a 3.12 ERA.

"He's pitched well," Oates said. "Willy is Willy. He hangs around and does his job."

Oquist was 0-0 with a 2.75 ERA in six appearances.

Bolton shelled

Atlanta's Fred McGriff hit a three-run home run off of recent left-handed minor-league acquisition Tom Bolton to highlight the Braves' 7-5 victory over the Orioles.

Bolton was on the mound for five outs and allowed six hits and five earned runs.

Orioles center fielder Mike Deveraux hit his third home run of the spring, with one on in the second.

Rochester right-hander Jason Satre pitched two scoreless innings for the Orioles. Tom Wegmann, pitching in a major-league exhibition for the Orioles for the first time since being traded from the New York Mets, allowed one hit, one run and walked two in one-third of an inning.

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