Mussina goes three innings without twinge Stomach muscle passes three-hit test vs. Marlins

March 15, 1996|By Buster Olney | Buster Olney,SUN STAFF

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. - Not knowing whether ace Mike Mussina would be healthy enough to pitch by Opening Day, Orioles manager Davey Johnson said yesterday, is like "losing your security blanket."

That said, Johnson should feel warm all over after Mussina's solid three-inning performance against the Florida Marlins yesterday. Mussina reported afterward that he felt no pain from the strained stomach muscle that sidelined him for almost two weeks.

"I feel good," Mussina said. "I'm looking forward to getting back out there."

Mussina had a little trouble with Florida early, as the Marlins hacked freely at his first-pitch fastballs. He was less than refined; his pitches were up in the strike zone. By Mussina's third inning, however, he was throwing good fastballs and a sharp breaking ball.

He threw 31 pitches in three innings, a great ratio, and allowed three hits and a run, with no strikeouts and walks.

"It's good to have him back," Johnson said. "I thought he threw free and easy out there."

Mussina suffered the strain playing catch with Rick Krivda a week before the Orioles' first exhibition game. He threw against the Marlins March 2, but felt stabs of pain in his side with each pitch.

"I thought I was getting a hernia," Mussina said. "I thought I was a little young for that."

His injury was diagnosed as a muscle strain, and Mussina refrained from throwing off a mound for more than a week.

Luckily, however, Mussina still could play catch on flat ground, keeping his arm in relatively good condition; it was the tilt of the mound that seemed to exacerbate the injury.

"It was a sharp pain," Mussina said. "It's behind me now I hope and I can move on."

Mussina, who missed two turns in the rotation, won't be fully prepared for his Opening Day start.

He hopes to throw four innings in his next appearance Monday, five innings a week from today and about six innings in his final start this spring. Throwing 100 pitches on Opening Day, Mussina said, might be "stretching it a little."

Rather, he'll be ready for about 80 to 90 pitches. "But at this point," he said, "I have to be pleased."

Pub Date: 3/15/96

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