McDonald ready to make his pitch in Game 2 OPENING DAY '94

ORIOLES NOTEBOOK

April 04, 1994|By Tom Keegan and Jim Henneman | Tom Keegan and Jim Henneman,Sun Staff Writers

Ben McDonald came out of yesterday's workout feeling fit to make his scheduled start Wednesday night, but said he is less than 100 percent.

"It's not totally gone," McDonald said of the tenderness in his right elbow, after he threw for nearly 15 minutes. "It's not totally healed. But as far as compared with five days ago, it's much, much improved. It may take awhile to get back to 100 percent. Maybe a couple of weeks. Maybe a month. But if it stays like it is now, I'm not going to have any problems pitching with it."

X-rays of McDonald's elbow revealed no problems.

"They have assured me I won't be doing any serious damage pitching with it," McDonald said.

McDonald had not pitched since he encountered soreness throwing on the side last Tuesday. On Wednesday, McDonald will face batters for the first time in 10 days.

Elsewhere on the Orioles' medical front, Alan Mills, bothered by back soreness, will be available for Opening Day, according to pitching coach Dick Bosman. Sid Fernandez, progressing from shoulder bursitis, is scheduled to pitch batting practice today.

Gonzales decision pending

The Orioles have given utility infielder Rene Gonzales until tomorrow to inform them whether he will accept an assignment to Rochester. Gonzales, through agent Dennis Gilbert, is seeking a major-league job elsewhere.

Gonzales' contract was set up so that he would not be free to search for jobs outside the organization until a month into the season, but the Orioles did not hold him to that.

"We didn't want to do that to him," Orioles general manager Roland Hemond said. "If he finds another opportunity, that would be fine."

O-so-young

Mike Mussina will become the 26th pitcher to start an Opening Day game for the Orioles -- and the youngest since Storm Davis.

Davis was 23 years and 4 months old when he pitched the opener in 1985. Mussina is two years older. Jim Palmer was in his 29th year when he pitched the first of four straight, and six of seven, openers in 1974.

The youngest Opening Day starting pitcher for the Orioles was Jerry Walker, who was 21 years, 2 months old when he pitched the game in 1960.

On a similar note, Jeffrey Hammonds (23 years, 1 month) will be the Orioles' youngest Opening Day starter since Cal Ripken (21 years, 7 months) in 1982.

The Streak I

Cal Ripken will be playing in his 13th consecutive Opening Day game -- and 1,898th straight overall. His past 12 first-game starts have been at shortstop (he started at third base in 1982), leaving him one behind Mark Belanger's record for the position and tying him with Belanger for the second-most opening starts in club history (Brooks Robinson had 20).

As an Opening Day performer, Ripken has batted .289 (13-45) with three home runs. The Orioles' leading Opening Day starters position:

1B -- Eddie Murray, Boog Powell, 9.

2B -- Rich Dauer, 8.

3B -- Brooks Robinson, 20.

SS -- Mark Belanger, 13.

LF -- Gary Roenicke, 6.

CF -- Paul Blair, 12.

RF -- Ken Singleton, Frank Robinson, 6.

C -- Rick Dempsey, 10.

DH -- Sam Horn, Ken Singleton, 3.

P -- Jim Palmer, 6.

The Streak II

Bullpen coach Elrod Hendricks, who has worn the Orioles' uniform longer than anyone else in club history, will be on the scene for his club-record 26th opener with the Orioles, including the past 17.

The only time in his career that Hendricks wasn't with the Orioles for an opener was 1977, when he spent the year in the Yankees' organization.

The Streak III

Ernie Tyler, who has manned a stool alongside the game ball bag for every Orioles home game since April 19, 1960, will be making his 35th straight Opening Day start.

By official count Tyler, whose sons Jim and Fred are the home and visiting clubhouse attendants, has worked 2,813 consecutive games.

Goods news, bad news?

The Orioles finished their exhibition season with a .500 record (15-15-1), but set two offensive statistical marks in the process.

They established highs in runs (180) and hits (332). The bad news is the previous records (169 and 315) were set by the 1991 team, which finished the regular season with a 67-95 record.

New count for Mussina

Mussina sounded eager to put spring training behind him today when he starts against the Kansas City Royals.

"It's psychologically reassuring to know that you have a clean slate," said Mussina, whose 14-6 record of a year ago was marred by back and shoulder injuries. Although he appeared to throw with the same velocity, the right-hander had only a 6.75 ERA during the exhibition season.

Make the pitch, hit the note

Gov. William Donald Schaefer will throw out the ceremonial first ball today at Camden Yards.

The national anthem will be sung by Michael Harrison, general director of the Baltimore Opera Company.

Opening up the past

The Orioles are 24-16 in opening games, and 25-15 in home openers. This is the 13th time in the past 14 years (the exception was the lockout year of 1990) that the Orioles have opened at home.

This will be the fifth time the Orioles and Royals have opened the season, with the Orioles winning three of four. It is also the fifth time the Orioles have opened at home against the Royals (the other four came in succession, 1980-83), and they are also 3-1 in those games.

In pre-game ceremonies, the Orioles will honor players from each of the four previous decades. Bob Turley, who won the first game the Orioles played in Baltimore in 1954; Brooks Robinson, the American League's Most Valuable Player in 1964; Mike Cuellar, the team's Most Valuable Player in 1974; and Mike Boddicker, the club's last 20-game winner in 1984, will be presented plaques by a fan from each era.

Today's game will be the 53rd straight sellout for the Orioles, who hold the major-league record of 65 straight from May 23, 1992, to April 20, 1993.

Approximately 3,000 tickets remain for Wednesday night's game with the Royals, and a total of 9,000 are available for the weekend series with the Texas Rangers.

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