Back-to-back solid outings encourage 'not 100%' Mills Reliever says he feels himself getting stronger

Orioles Notebook

June 09, 1996|By Peter Schmuck and Jason LaCanfora | Peter Schmuck and Jason LaCanfora,SUN STAFF

Orioles reliever Alan Mills looked again yesterday like he is all the way back from the shoulder injury that has plagued him the past few years, but he says there's still plenty of room for improvement.

"I don't feel like I'm 100 percent yet," he said. "That's just the way I feel. I feel better and I feel myself getting stronger, but as long as I feel no pain, I've got no complaints."

Nobody else has any complaints either. Mills struck out five of the eight batters he faced on Thursday night against Detroit, then came back on one day's rest to pitch two innings of one-hit relief in yesterday's 2-1 loss to the Chicago White Sox.

He struck out three of the seven batters he faced this time before turning the game over to closer Randy Myers, who retired the side in order -- and struck out two -- in the ninth inning.

Leaning toward Rocky

Rookie pitcher Rocky Coppinger probably will enter the Orioles' starting rotation on Tuesday night in Detroit, though manager Davey Johnson still wasn't willing to make that 100 percent official.

"I'm leaning toward Coppinger," Johnson said. "His normal rotation day would be tomorrow [today]. That would give him a couple more days. I want to make sure he pitches, rather than coming up here and sitting around."

Johnson apparently is hedging to keep Coppinger from putting too much pressure on himself in advance of Tuesday's game.

"I told Rocky it would probably be Tuesday," Johnson said. "But I don't want to make it 100 percent because I want him to sleep the next couple of nights."

Bill Ripken getting by

Utility man Bill Ripken was available for yesterday's game, though he still is grappling with lower back soreness.

"He's going to try and get by without having to do any drastic procedure on his back," Johnson said. "He's the same as yesterday, which is not 100 percent."

Ripken suffers from a bulging disk, which has caused some stiffness and pain in his legs, but he says he has had similar flare-ups before and can handle it.

"Surgery has never been an option," said Ripken. "It has never been discussed."

Ripken's string of 13 solid performances at third base ended Friday night, when B. J. Surhoff was put back at the position, but Ripken said it was not because of the back soreness.

McDowell improving

Reliever Roger McDowell is bouncing back from the shoulder soreness that has been bothering him all week, but Johnson said he was glad that he didn't need him for yesterday's game.

"Roger's a lot better," Johnson said. "He says that he's ready for full-time duty again, but I'm going to try and stay off him."

And counting . . .

Roberto Alomar obviously doesn't care much for suspense. He again singled in his first at-bat to extend his hitting streak to 22 games.

Alomar, who entered the game tied with Cleveland's Albert Belle for the longest hitting streak in the majors this year, can break the Orioles record -- 24 by Rafael Palmeiro in 1994 -- on Tuesday night.

O's sign three '96 picks

The Orioles have signed three of their 1996 draft picks: John Parrish, a left-handed pitcher from Lancaster, Pa., who was taken in the 25th round; Maleke Fowler, a center fielder from Nicholls State University, who was a 26th-round pick; and Mike Kirkpatrick, a center fielder from New Castle, Del., who was taken in the 42nd round.

Around the horn

Left-hander Rick Krivda spent yesterday morning sleeping on a sofa in the clubhouse with a a 100-degree temperature. . . Johnson said outfielder Mike Devereaux would return to the starting lineup today for the first time in six games. Devereaux replaced Luis Polonia in the seventh inning yesterday and got a base hit in his first at-bat. But he also grounded into a game-ending double play. Devereaux received a cortisone shot for his sore shoulder on Thursday.

Pub Date: 6/09/96

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