Efficient Mussina gets last spring job done Tunes up for opener with pain-free victory

Orioles notebook

March 28, 1996|By Peter Schmuck | Peter Schmuck,SUN STAFF

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- Mike Mussina delivered a workmanlike performance in his final tuneup for Opening Day, pitching seven innings and giving up 10 hits in an 8-3 exhibition victory over the New York Mets yesterday at St. Lucie County Stadium.

It wasn't pretty, but it served its purpose. Mussina threw 85 pitches and benefited from a 14-hit offensive attack to finish the spring with a 1-1 record and a 5.85 ERA.

"I felt fine," Mussina said. "I could have kept going. I feel better at this point than I thought I was going to feel after missing 10 days earlier this spring."

He showed no signs of the abdominal strain that cost him some innings earlier this month, but he did not display the kind of command that is expected to make him a Cy Young contender again this year.

"I don't know if you want to be that sharp right now," Mussina said. "If you were right on top of your game right now, it would be hard to maintain that for 162 games. I think you want to go into the season thinking you still can get better."

Answers forthcoming

Manager Davey Johnson said he'll announce all of his pending personnel decisions after today's exhibition game against the Atlanta Braves at Fort Lauderdale.

"I will answer your questions explicitly," Johnson said. "If I've been vague up to this point, it was on purpose."

Not much remains a mystery, but Johnson figures to be more specific about the way he'll use B.J. Surhoff and Bobby Bonilla, both of whom could spend significant time at third base. He'll also finalize the composition of his bullpen and bench.

He already has said that he'll likely go with six relievers, which means that right-hander Keith Shepherd probably will make the club, and has left hints that he'll go with two catchers and three utility infielders.

Interest in Olson low

Assistant general manager Kevin Malone said yesterday that the Orioles are unlikely to pursue former Orioles closer Gregg Olson, now that he has been released by the St. Louis Cardinals.

"I can't say absolutely it won't happen," Malone said, "but we haven't discussed it. He's gotten a couple of looks this spring, so I wouldn't think we'd be interested."

Olson left the Orioles after elbow problems made the club reluctant to re-sign him. He has played in four organizations since then: the Atlanta Braves, Cleveland Indians, Kansas City Royals and Cardinals.

The Webster watch

The Orioles hope to sign catcher Lenny Webster when he clears waivers tomorrow. Webster was released by the Philadelphia Phillies earlier this week and has been offered a chance to start the season at Triple-A Rochester.

The 3 million watch

Club officials report that advance ticket sales for 1996 stand at 2,980,000 and are all but certain to top 3 million by Opening Day. That number represents all season, group and advance sales. The club would need to sell about 700,000 more tickets to consider the entire season a sellout, but that will be a tall order because many of the available seats are for weekday games in April and May.

Zaun tries third base

Catcher Gregg Zaun got a chance to play third base in the late innings of yesterday's game and Surhoff made his first appearance behind the plate.

Surhoff's inning at catcher was uneventual. Zaun's inning at third produced mixed results. He bobbled his first chance for an error, but started a double play the next time he handled the ball. Don't look for him to play there during the regular season, but Johnson likes to give players a chance to sample an unfamiliar position during spring training.

Around the horn

The Orioles have invited 10,000 youngsters who serve as Safety Patrol members across Maryland to be guests of the club at Saturday's exhibition game with the Philadelphia Phillies. Eighth-grader Eron Bruce of Cardinal Shehan School will sing the national anthem and fifth-grader Erica Pressell of Middlesex Elementary School in Essex will throw out the ceremonial first pitch. . . .

Malone said that there is little likelihood that a trade will be made for Florida Marlins right-hander David Weathers.

Pub Date: 3/28/96

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