Mussina lone welt in 10-1 Marlins belt O's ace bruised by liner

mates are most impressive

March 03, 1996|By Buster Olney | Buster Olney,SUN STAFF

VIERA, Fla. -- On the morning of his first exhibition game as manager of the Orioles, Davey Johnson woke up at 5 a.m. yesterday and tried to think through his plans for the afternoon, his lineup, his pitching rotation.

But he couldn't have imagined a better beginning. The Orioles whipped the Florida Marlins, 10-1, pounding out 12 hits and playing errorless in the field, and the pitchers didn't allow a single walk. Good stuff for the Orioles.

About the only blemish could be found on starting pitcher Mike Mussina. Literally. A line drive bounced off the side of his right shin, and within an hour, a sizable welt had formed. Nothing serious, but seriously ugly.

"In case you were wondering," he said, pointing, "this bump up here, this is my kneecap. That's the bruise down there."

Mussina, who is scheduled to pitch when the Orioles open their season April 1 at Camden Yards, started the exhibition opener and, throwing lots of curveballs, he got through the first inning.

In the second inning, however, Mussina couldn't throw his curveball for strikes. An inconsistency of spring. Florida left fielder Jeff Conine, the MVP of last year's All-Star Game, hammered a changeup leading off the inning, the first run of the game.

Greg Colbrunn singled, Charles Johnson doubled. More location trouble for Mussina. Shortstop Kurt Abbott hit a liner back at Mussina, the ball bouncing off his leg and away. Mussina recovered to throw out Colbrunn at home.

Facing the next hitter, Mussina shook off a sign from Gregg Zaun. And another. And another.

Finally, Zaun trotted out to the mound. "I'm just going to take a little break here," Mussina told Zaun, "until I get the feeling back in my foot."

Mussina survived the inning without allowing another run, and immediately went inside to get ice on his leg.

He walked around the clubhouse without a limp, and doesn't expect he'll miss his next start, or even today's workout.

"I was struggling," he said, "but it was the first day. I haven't been a big spring training guy, anyway. I'll flip up a 6.00 ERA in spring, and I'll be ready to go by Opening Day."

Ups and downs

Some of the highlights and lowlights from the Orioles' exhibition game yesterday:

Ups

* Sherman Obando went 3-for-3, with a monstrous bases-empty homer, a two-run double and an infield single.

* Gregg Zaun singled twice, drove in two runs and gunned down a would-be base stealer.

* Jimmy Haynes and Oscar Munoz each pitched two shutout innings.

* Manny Alexander had a double, single, a walk, sacrifice fly and two RBIs and made a nice bare-handed catch and throw on an infield roller.

* Armando Benitez faced just three hitters in the ninth inning, striking out two.

* The Orioles walked none.

Downs

* Brady Anderson, Roberto Alomar and Rafael Palmeiro combined to go 0-for-7.

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