McDonald is encouraged on morning after start


April 08, 1994|By Tom Keegan | Tom Keegan,Sun Staff Writer

The Orioles did not work out yesterday, but Ben McDonald reported to Camden Yards for a checkup.

"Ben was fine, real good," Orioles general manager Roland Hemond said. "We're very pleased."

McDonald, scratched from his final spring training start because of elbow tenderness, threw 98 pitches Wednesday night in the Orioles' 4-2 comeback victory over Kansas City.

He said he felt something in his elbow only on a couple of pitches. The biggest test, he said, would come the day after.

Mike Mussina's spring training ERA of 6.75 and McDonald's elbow tenderness late in the spring raised questions about the Orioles' pair of aces.

Mussina threw eight innings of two-hit ball and allowed one run against the Kansas City Royals on Opening Day, and McDonald allowed two runs before turning it over to the bullpen.

"It's reassuring to have Mussina and McDonald do so well and to throw so freely and effectively," Hemond said. "It's a great boost for them as well as for everyone in the organization."

Another Stanford debut

The Orioles will try to see that Texas right-hander Rick Helling's first major-league start doesn't go as smoothly as that of Helling's former Stanford teammates, Jeffrey Hammonds and Mussina.

Helling makes his debut Sunday at Camden Yards in the finale of a three-game series.

Mussina made his first major-league start Aug. 4, 1991, at Comiskey Park. He pitched two outs into the eighth inning and lost 1-0 on a Frank Thomas home run.

Hammonds had a run-scoring single off Jim Abbott in his first major-league plate appearance, as a pinch hitter, and added a single and an intentional walk, helping the Orioles rally from a 6-0 deficit to a 7-6 win in 10 innings.

The next night, in his first major-league start, Hammonds had a double and a two-run home run as the Orioles rallied to a 12-10 victory.

"We talk often," Hammonds said of Helling. "I told him the same thing everyone told me. If there is a crack in the door, step through it and take advantage of your chance. He did."

Helling, a 1992 first-round draft choice and a former linebacker at the University of North Dakota, teamed with Hammonds at Stanford and on the 1992 U.S. Olympic team.

He went 12-8 with a 3.60 ERA for Double-A Tulsa last season. In 177 innings, Helling allowed 150 hits, walked 46 and struck out 188.

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